For law firms in need of information on how to continue working during the current pandemic situation, we are gathering resources and tips on this forum with the goal of providing support. If you have questions OR additional information you can share with colleagues such as trial postponements, legal developments or best practices that are working for your firm, please let us know and we will add it to the growing list. You can contact us through the comments section below, via our chat, or via email.
We will be updating this page often as we get new developments and readers’ suggestions and contributions. Verus will be providing an update on our trusts on Wednesday, April 1st at 1:00 P.M. For more information and to register, please click here.
Please consider making a contribution to Verus’ Covid-19 Relief Efforts
On Legal Developments:
- California State Court Emergency Orders – Truvada/TDF – Paraguard: https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/court-emergency-orders-6794321
- St Louis County Court Orders – RoundUp: https://wp.stlcountycourts.com/st-louis-county-circuit-court-coronavirus-update/
- RoundUP MDL Information: https://cand.uscourts.gov/notices/information-regarding-covid-19/
- JPML Panel Closing: Link
- Xarelto – Louisiana: http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/Xarelto
- New Jersey State Courts: https://njcourts.gov/courts/closings.html
- Texas MDL Court Closures: https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042.pdf
- Latest Court Closures And Restrictions (compliments of Law360): https://www.law360.com/coronavirus NEW
- Coronavirus Tax Relief: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus NEW
- NY Governor issues Executive Order 202.8, tolling statutes of limitation until April 19, 2020: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2028-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency NEW
- WV Supreme Court issues Administrative Order extending deadlines: Link NEW
- US District Judge Dennis Saylor of the District of Massachusetts has canceled the first bellwether trial in the Zofran MDL citing the coronavirus; the case was originally scheduled to start on 5/4. NEW
- The retrial of an ovarian cancer talc case pending in Fulton County State Court has been taken off the calendar; the judge has not rescheduled the trial, originally scheduled for 4/6. NEW
- A judge in Illinois has postponed another talc case against Johnson and Johnson originally scheduled for 5/4. NEW
- Three talc powder trials pending in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas are still scheduled for 6/15. NEW
- All four courthouses in Orange County, California were closed to the public until further notice effective 3/23. NEW
- The 20th Judicial District in Boulder County, CO has postponed all jury trials until at least mid-May. NEW
On Remote Working:
- Utilize a robust and reliable video communications software.
- Use the camera for all meetings. It brings us closer together when we see as well as hear each other.
- Create a shared chat for the whole organization, create individual chat groups for departments, and for large litigation projects with cross-departmental team members, create a chat group for that team. Group chats can be closed down when projects are over.
- Have one chat room that is the equivalent of the “water cooler” chat space, and encourage staff to reach out via the communications software and have a friendly chat with each other.
- Ensure everyone has access to co-workers calendars to facilitate setting up calls and virtual meetings.
- Define communication protocols and set expectations for what is acceptable response time. Emails, chat, call, a phone call – use those communication methods according to the protocols and expectations.
- Use status indicators in your remote software such as Available, Busy, and Away to indicate your availability.
- Read our latest post on “Useful Tips for Setting Up a Remote Workforce” NEW
On Employee Morale:
- Communication is key. Ensure that employees are proactively checking in with supervisors and/or subordinates. Even a simple email or text can facilitate communications that parallel the impromptu conversations that arise on-site. Additionally, frequent communications mitigate feelings of isolation.
- Loneliness is a huge factor, especially when working from home during challenging times. Leaders should initiate group chats to foster a spirit of team solidarity. Brief conversations that allow home workers to “see” each other (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.) simulate in-person meetings and discussions.
- Create a boundary between work and leisure. Employees should carve out a specific area for work that is removed from common living spaces. In other words, working on the couch in front of the TV can be distracting.
- Encourage staff to develop a strict work routine. Working from home requires discipline. Adherence to a stringent business hours schedule allows the firm to work in sync and remain productive.
- Encourage people to get up from their workstations and take breaks. Employees can be prone to spending extended hours at the computer. A quick walk – even around your home – and other type of activity contributes to improved physical and mental well-being.
- Balancing work and family life is challenging especially when schools and other after school activities are cancelled. Help your staff keep their children active (and safe) to reduce the number of interruptions to remote work by facilitating children activities. [See Verus For Kids Weekly Activities.]
On Client Communication:
- Send firm communication to clients to ensure they know your law firm is open as usual.
- Have lawyers forward all DID calls to their dedicated phones.
- Post announcement on your website homepage detailing any key information related to the current situation and easy contact venues to be reached by clients.
- Read our blog post on Law Firms’ Communication During the COVID-19 Crisis NEW
On Household Needs:
- Ensure you have a variety of basic items that can be stocked in your pantry. See link for suggested list. NEW
- Plan kids activities that encourage creativity. See Verus For Kids Weekly Activities. NEW
All of Verus’ normal communication channels remain operational. Verus is set up to operate with a remote workforce allowing our employees to work safely from home. We are operating at full capacity during this period. If your firm needs any support during these times, Verus remains here to help. You can contact us via chat, phone or via email.