On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Reactions to this declaration and the spread of the virus are in a state of flux, and include prohibition of events with more than 250 people, the indefinite suspension of the National Basketball Association's season, suspensions of operations by Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, and deployment of the National Guard in New York to enforce quarantine regulations.
During this period of uncertainty, the health and welfare of your lawyers, staff, and clients is a top priority. However, attorneys must also be prepared to continue to provide legal services to clients regardless of measures taken by any government or oversight organization. In addition, the need to potentially self-quarantine has to be taken seriously. The best and only time to prepare for an interruption in practice—whether self-imposed or by a third party—is before it happens.
Risk Management Issue: One of the primary risks for law firms in a quarantine situation are missed deadlines. Accordingly, lawyers should consider the following points, and law firms should consider communicating these points to their lawyers:
Consider arrangements to have mail delivered to your home or scanned and sent to you if you are out of the office. Again, do not rely strictly on your legal assistant in the event he or she is unavailable for any reason. Identify a backup for that task.
Review and consider the privacy and security of any client records and documents, as well as your ability to meet the requirements of outside counsel guidelines when working remotely. This typically means client information should not be placed or stored on home computers, personal storage devices, or in the cloud, which violate most—if not the majority of—standard outside client guidelines.