Thursday, March 26, 2020
These are certainly unprecedented times in which we practice law.
Over the past two weeks, I personally have received countless emails and messages from colleagues, clients, municipalities and the courts regarding the to the growing concern for the COVID 19 virus pandemic and its effect upon the legal practice.
Executive Order No. 7H was signed by the Governor on March 20, 2020 and takes effect on March 23rd at 8pm. Under this order all non-essential businesses and non-profit entities shall conduct business by telecommuting or by implementing work-from -home procedures in order to reduce their workforce at any workplace by 100%. The following were deemed essential services and are exempt from this order:
- Legal and accounting services
- Insurance Companies
- other financial institutions
With all due respect, I had always considered legal services as essential.
Despite the exemption of legal services from the Executive Order, we as a bar must do our part to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by putting into practice procedures to limit personal social interaction. The challenge, however, is to maintain the balance between providing legal services and doing our part to promote and protect public safety and welfare. Additionally, it is our responsibility to consider the health, safety and welfare of employees, staff and third-party providers with whom we regularly engage. I urge all of you to come up with a strategic plan that addresses these issues.
The importance of communication under Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct has never been more important to our practice. As stated in the commentary to this rule, reasonable communication between the lawyer and the client is necessary for the client to effectively participate in the representation. We need to keep clients reasonably advised of all the changes in how we practice law during this crisis, so that they can effectively communicate with us.
On a final note, I want to be clear regarding my opinion as President of the GBBA: If you are not assisting your fellow GBBA member, you are not honoring the profession of the practice of law.
Let us all do our part to assist each other for the greater good of our profession.
Please stay safe.
Matthew C. Reale, President
Greater Bridgeport Bar Association