Operation of the Law Society during the COVID-19 Pandemic
For continuing updates regarding COVID-19, please see our page here.
Managing the COVID-19 Situation: Taking Steps to Reduce Exposure
The Law Society is committed to taking the health and safety of our staff, the public and the profession seriously. As part of this commitment, the Law Society is taking the necessary steps to follow the advice from both the federal and provincial government.
While the Government of Canada has maintained that the risk associated with COVID-19 is low, it is acknowledged that this could change rapidly. As a result, we are taking proactive measures as the COVID-19 situation evolves in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Law Society Operations
After monitoring the rapid developments regarding COVID-19 and considering the advice of public health experts and government officials, the Law Society will be transitioning staff to work from home. Staff will be provided with network access such that the work of the Law Society will continue as usual with some modifications. Members can continue to contact Law Society staff via email: https://lsnl.ca/about-us/staff-directory/
While the Law Library will no longer be physically accessible, library staff will continue to provide reference assistance and can supply books during regular business hours. Members will be required to contact the library in advance to request research assistance/materials. Access to materials that cannot typically be removed from the library and/or access after regular business hours will be addressed on a case by case basis. Please contact the library staff during regular business hours to make arrangements. Library staff will also provide a scanning service to all members, where they scan the table of contents of a publication and then scan and provide what you need from that publication.
While we will have a receptionist onsite to answer incoming calls and manage deliveries, members wishing to deliver forms, filings or other communications to the Law Society are asked to contact the Law Society in advance, use electronic means of delivery where possible or use the drop box in the porch of the building.
Please note that all scheduled CLE seminars have been cancelled. Efforts are being made to reschedule these programs for a date in the future or, where possible, deliver them by webcast only.
Members who have registered for any CLE seminars have two options:
- Members may request a refund or return of their cheque by contacting Andrea Mercer via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please bear with us as it may take some time to process these requests.
- Members can maintain their registration for any CLE programs, pending further information regarding the timing and delivery of these programs.
Members may request a refund at any point prior to the ultimate delivery of the CLE seminar and all deadlines specified in previous notices or correspondence are hereby waived.
The Law Society will continue to update members about Law Society operations, including the Mandatory CLE Program and the delivery of CLE seminars, as new information becomes available.
How can you protect yourself?
The World Health Organization, Government of Canada and provincial government have made recommendations on how to protect yourself and others from contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Some basic recommendations are:
- wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- use approved hand sanitizers (alcohol based)
- avoid touching your face/mouth, especially with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people and animals if illness is suspected
- stay at home if you are sick
- cough into a tissue or your elbow and then wash your hands immediately
- frequently clean and disinfect high-touch areas such as toilets, bedside tables and door handles with diluted bleach or a regular household cleaner
- contact 811 if you develop a fever, tough or have difficulty breathing.
How can you prepare and protect your firm/organization?
Preparing for a public health event should be part of your own firm or organization’s business continuity planning. Having a plan will save valuable time and resources later. Some simple tips to consider include:
- increase work area hygiene by cleaning door handles, desks, phones, etc. daily
- suspend conventional business etiquette such as hand shaking
- limit in-person meetings by leveraging technology, e.g. video conferencing
- plan for removal of work access and ensure staff have the access and tools needed
- notify clients and customers if work hours or your operations change
- keep your voicemail, website and/or social media updated regarding changes to your operations
- review sick leave benefits and discuss with your staff in case self-quarantine is required
This is not a complete list as there are many things to consider in your business continuity planning, but it’s a start. While current risk is low, there is no time like the present to plan for the future and build in systems that will protect your practice and your clients.
Loss Prevention Tips #36 and #37, directed to the membership from the Insurance Programme, are also instructive:
We further refer you to some helpful resources from the Law Society of Alberta:
Disaster Planning and Recovery: https://www.lawsociety.ab.ca/resource-centre/disaster-planning-and-recovery/
When Bad Things Happen to Good Lawyers: Contingency Planning Guide: https://dvbat5idxh7ib.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/22203930/When-Bad-Things-Happen-to-Good-Lawyers.pdf
Managing Stress and Anxiety Related to COVID-19
If you are experiencing concern and/or anxiety regarding the spread and/or impact of COVID-19 we encourage you to reach out to the Professionals’ Assistance Program.
Homewood Health, our service provider, has already issued a notice regarding COVID-19: https://lsnl.ca/a-message-from-homewood-your-professional-assistance-provider/
Please find the contact information for Homewood at: https://lsnl.ca/lawyers-students/wellness-program/