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INSIGHT: The Practice of Law in the Time of Covid-19

Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report

James P. Flynn, Managing Director of the Firm and Member in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s Newark office, authored an article in the Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report, titled “INSIGHT: The Practice of Law in the Time of Covid-19.”

Following is an excerpt:

Law is an incredibly interdependent enterprise. That is illustrated humorously in the old notion of a town with one lawyer whose practice was so meager that the lawyer almost starved, but a second lawyer moved to town, the two practices grew rapidly, and each ate like royalty.

So, we depend for our livelihood not only on our partners and associates, but on our adversaries, opposing counsel and the “other side.”

That is why my favorite Shakespeare quote about lawyers is not the well-known cry of Dick the Butcher suggesting widespread advocaticide, but rather is Tranio advising us to “do as adversaries do in law, / Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.” (Taming of the Shrew, Act I, scene 2, lines 248-52.) That line shows that lawyers can both contest and celebrate in ways that exhibit what is best in our profession.

Now Covid-19 has changed our world. Lawyers no longer contest positions in crowded courts or conference rooms, and restaurant curfews have them dining together only virtually through Zoom meetings. Indeed, law offices are shuttering, and their occupants shuddering, at the thought of actually covening because, to paraphrase the Butcher, “the first thing that may do is kill the lawyers.”

We Need to Stay Engaged With Adversaries

So we were catapulted into the future of work rather than phasing it over time. It is now an immediate reality being grasped and grappled with, not an abstract notion. So we circulate internally tips for working remotely to maintain a sense of team connectedness. But we need to go beyond that as well—we need to stay engaged with adversaries while working remotely.

And we need to live now the aspirations to civility that codes adopted in easier times still urge on us. That means both staying in contact with the other side, and looking out for them as well. There is no “us” or “our side” without a “them” or “their side.”

Related reading: 

Bloomberg Law featured the article, “INSIGHT: The Practice of Law in the Time of Covid-19,” as a “Top Story,” in “Businesses, Workers Raise Benefits Eligibility Questions,” by Patricio Chile.

Bloomberg Law featured the article in the "Weekend Read" newsletter, in "Positive Advocacy During Pandemic," by Robert Wilhelm.