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Yes, I’m Still Practicing LawPosted April 01, 2020
By Jonathan A. Karon
These are strange, difficult times for everyone. We all hope that by being responsible we can slow the spread of the virus, help save lives and hopefully, someday soon, things will start to get back to normal. Many folks have been thrown out of work or had to close their businesses during this “Great Isolation”. So, I feel fortunate that I’m able to continue to practice law, although differently than before.
Presently, courts are essentially closed for everything except emergency business. Massachusetts State Courts have postponed all jury trials until at least May 4, 2020. So, my favorite part of my law practice, trying cases and going to Court, is off the table, at least for a while. I’m presently working on scheduling depositions (where a party or witness is questioned under oath) by video conference. Traditionally, the witness, a court reporter and the lawyers all meet in one conference room. Now, attorneys are anticipating having depositions with the witness in one location, the court reporter in another and each lawyer in their own place. Myself and my colleagues are all getting a quick education in using Zoom. Despite the stereotypes, lawyers on the other side of my cases have generally been cooperative and professional, so I anticipate I’ll start doing “remote” depositions later this month.
Another major adjustment is relying mainly on e-mail. The Massachusetts State Court system still mostly requires filing of hard copy paper documents (presently there are only three counties whose Superior Courts are set up to handle electronic filing of documents). Until, literally yesterday, lawyers were required to serve copies of documents on other lawyers by snail mail rather than by e-mail PDF. Given Governor Baker’s stay at home orders, there are a lot of logistical problems with both sending and receiving snail mail. My prediction is that when this crisis is over, the Courts and lawyers will end up doing things a lot more efficiently.
It is clear that the resolution of everyone’s cases are going to be delayed due to coronavirus issues. How long depends on when the Courts sets up processes for resolving discovery disputes (issues between parties over what information they have to provide) and how they handle scheduling of future jury trials. In the meantime, I will continue to practice remotely, drafting documents, conferring with clients and witnesses, communicating with insurance companies, performing legal research and hopefully conducting video conference depositions.
The easiest way to reach me is by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I check my e-mail constantly. You can also leave a voice mail at my office number (617) 367-0570 as I also check that daily. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I am always happy to speak with you if you think I might be able to help with a legal matter.
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