In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York solo lawyer shares how she is preparing her practice for the challenges that come with the spreading COVID-19 virus.
I’m getting overwhelmed with phone calls and emails from my fellow solo attorneys asking, how should I prepare my practice for the coronavirus (COVID-19)? How do I meet with clients? Do I go to court? What about the mail???
My practice has been virtual for years now, my office is entirely paperless and cloud-based so I can work from anywhere. This comes in handy in a pandemic situation such as the one we are facing now, or in the case of illness or injury. I feel like I’ve been self quarantined since my return from vacation in mid-February. I dislocated my knee and was pretty much homebound for the next couple of weeks. And now that I can finally get out and about again…it’s probably a good idea not too.
Thanks to the systems I already had in place, I was able to continue running my practice seamlessly, and in the event of quarantine, I’d be able to continue to do so.
So what can you do now to prepare your practice to keep operating if you can’t leave your home?
Back-Up To The Cloud
If you are not yet paperless, now is the time to start. At a minimum, upload the files and documents you will need to work for the next 4-6 weeks. This will allow you and any staff to continue to work on your cases from home.
Make Meetings Virtual
The vast majority of my clients prefer phone and video conferences, but for the next few weeks, I plan to suspend in-person meetings and consultations altogether.
My favorite tool for virtual meetings is Zoom. You can video conference with multiple people (for example if you wanted an associate or paralegal in on the meeting as well as the client), you can screen share documents, and you can record if you like.
Triage In-Person Appearances
I’m finding the judges in my jurisdiction are being flexible about adjourning non-essential court appearances. So any court appearances or depositions that don’t have to happen right now, I’m pushing back a few weeks.
Protect Yourself When You Have To Go Out
When you do have to go out and make these in-person appearances, be sure to be safe. That means washing your hands regularly, avoiding large crowds, avoid handshakes. Because of my knee injury, I’ve minimized my use of public transportation (there are a lot of stairs in NYC subway stations), but I think I will continue that until this pandemic subsides. Since I am going out less it’s worth it to just use Uber or Lyft instead.
A big lesson many of my fellow small and solo lawyers are learning is the practicality of the ability to work remotely. I think one positive outcome of all this will be the increase of virtual firms and paperless offices.