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, recently authored an article, “INSIGHT: The Practice of Law in the Time of Covid-19,” that was featured in Zen and the Art of Legal Networking, in “Client Care in the Time of Coronavirus,” by Lindsay Griffiths.
Following is an excerpt:
We’re at a unique point in our histories right now – everything seems to be in an upheaval, and our nerves are frayed. Many of us are finally getting to a place that feels like a new normal, but there are still some things that are a challenge. One of the things I’ve seen to be true over the past few weeks is that a lot of people seem to be in a mad rush to make things happen. In many cases, that’s necessary – as things close, we have to make quick choices about how to work from home, how to help clients move entire businesses to remote working, how to suddenly adapt to working next to children and spouses and partners, how to identify the tricky legal issues that come with challenging economic times.
Whenever there is a rush like that, the idea of “care” can often become secondary. We get more terse in our replies in an effort to be more efficient and we forget that there are real, scared and anxious people at the other end of the phone or digital line, who are trying to manage as many plates and emotions as we are. …
I’ll leave you with a great excerpt from the ILN’s own Jim Flynn, of Epstein Becker Green – look for his blog post tomorrow on ILN IP Insider. Earlier this week, he wrote for Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report, “INSIGHT: The Practice of Law in the Time of Covid-19” (read the whole thing, it’s excellent), and what he says for lawyers at this time is so poignant:
Teach clients to know what zealous advocacy is by always fulfilling the obligations of the oath that we take to our clients to advocate, especially at this difficult time, for them. But also teach our clients what it is not by never doing anything that would undermine the oath that we take ourselves as lawyers. Using current circumstances to extract unwarranted concessions or results is far beneath us or our clients. So too is taking unneeded consideration—if a Covid-19 closure, or illness of family member, truly prevented or delayed a due response, so be it: give and take the courtesies basic decency require.
But if the real reason that something is not done comes from basic procrastination or inattention (or if some added demand stems from a harsher opportunism) unrelated to current events, make sure these dire times are never just convenient makeweight excuses.
In the novel Love in the Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez writes, ‘Nobody teaches life anything.’ The great thing about fiction, of course, is that it can say the truest things. Though we teach life nothing, it teaches us everything, including the crash course recently on what matters most. In this crisis, our industry can exhibit the ideals that we should be most passionate about and known for, or it can recall for our society the worst images of our profession.
Be Optimistic and Do the Right Thing
It is an easy time for pessimism and slouching toward a comfortable baseness. Deny that tendency, as some have done to devote extended pro bono hours to Covid-19-related needs. Step away from the glumness of physical separation, as many have through client conference calls, Zoom coffee breaks and happy hours, and plain old-fashioned phone calls. Reject the negative traits that Dr. Larry Richard has found characterize the average ‘Lawyer Brain‘ in favor of the needed resilience he stresses. Keep a tough-minded optimism because:
- Life is tumultuous—an endless losing and regaining of balance, a continuous struggle, never an assured victory … Every important battle is fought and re-fought. We need to develop a resilient, indomitable morale that enables us to face those realities and still strive with every ounce of energy to prevail. You may wonder if such a struggle—endless and of uncertain outcome—isn’t more than humans can bear. But all of history suggests that the human spirit is well fitted to cope with just that kind of world.
[John Gardner, Personal Renewal]
Law in the time of Covid-19 is just that kind of world, and it needs resilient, optimistic lawyers to cope with it.”
Will you be those lawyers today?