The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people and businesses live for almost a year. The way people shop for groceries, see loved ones, and do business has had to change a lot since the U.S. was locked in March 2020.
Howard Mishkind, founding partner of Mishkind Kulwicki Law of Beachwood; Elena Lidrbauch, attorney at Hickman & Lowder in Cleveland; and Craig Weintraub, an attorney at Craig Weintraub’s Cleveland Law Firms, said their offices are not much different from other firms that have had to make adjustments.
“I worked quite a distance,” said Mishkind. “Because I’m 65, I have a higher risk of COVID. So I made the decision to work remotely and I would only go to the office once or twice a week as needed. “
While attorneys work remotely across the state, they must find other ways to communicate with their clients and other legal partners.
“We now do everything with Zoom,” said Weintraub. “So you have to have an understanding of the technology and respect our customers’ rights to privacy. Everything is run by Zoom. All of our meetings with prosecutors and judges are hosted by Zoom. “
According to Lidrbauch, while zoom is an effective means of communication during these times, it is difficult to duplicate personal conversations.
“I probably miss human contact like anyone else,” Lidrbauch said. “When you’re on the phone – if it’s a customer you already have a stable relationship with, it’s a little easier to have a phone call. When it’s a brand new person it’s a little more challenging because you can’t see their face. “
One way for Lidrbauch’s office to see customers face to face in the summer was to use a drive-through system. Customers could arrive in their cars, talk to people in the office, and sign the right documents.
However, a major consequence of the pandemic is the suspension of legal proceedings since mid-March 2020. This problem is particularly important for people like Weintraub, who specializes in criminal defense. He said the right to a speedy trial was threatened by the long-term stay of court proceedings.
An indirect way in which a process can be influenced is a “plaintive witness” who, due to the length of the process, loses energy to proceed further.
“I think the question I would be asking is whether the victims of this virus include verbal advocacy?” Asked Weintraub. “Because it has a direct impact on what we do for criminal clients.”
Although working in a pandemic has consequences and disadvantages, Mischkind believes that certain things will continue to exist after the pandemic.
“I think Zoom completely changed the landscape,” said Mishkind. “I have to believe that after the pandemic ends, the way we practice law, holding conferences, tipping, and even pre-litigation (will be different). … This enables a lawyer to work much more efficiently than having to drive back and forth or get on a plane. “