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Loss Prevention Tip #36

Coronavirus and your Law Practice

The World Health Organization recently declared a global pandemic as the Coronavirus (Covid-19), spreads rapidly across the world. The scope of this disease and its potential impacts has clear implications for personal safety and for law office management.

A healthy and available workforce is any organization’s most valuable asset. The Coronavirus is very likely to incapacitate some employees and result in other employees being quarantined. A quarantine at your office could result in a major disruption to normal operations, with potentially large numbers of employees working from home or from remote locations – disconnected from easily asking questions of each other or from getting prompt instructions about their work. Now might be a prudent time for law firms to review and update their business continuity plans to assure operational resiliency.

From a risk management perspective, be extra diligent about limitation dates. Almost all areas of law practice are deadline-driven to some degree. Areas such as litigation live and die by deadlines. For this reason it is critical for lawyers to keep an up-to-date calendar and, when appropriate, have it available to select staff. The following steps may assist:

  • Have your current calendar in duplicate in at least two different locations; one calendar could be at your home and the other at your office;
  • Make certain appropriate others have access to, and understand the implications of, your calendar; in addition to your own support staff, one or more other staff, or lawyers at your firm, should have access to your calendar in the event both you and your support staff are unavailable;
  • Identify key employees and make certain they and their staff have received appropriate training to cover absences;
  • Sole practitioners, in particular, might reflect on who could step into their shoes in the event of incapacitation. Consider an emergency buddy option – a qualified peer who can help notify clients, take on your caseload and run your practice in the event of your personal emergency. Be mindful when considering this option that you must follow the applicable ethical requirements regarding conflicts, advance client consent, and so forth.

By being proactive and by paying particular attention to the implications of the Coronavirus on your practice you can better protect your clients’ interests and your law practice.