Our office is open, we are meeting with clients, the court system is operating, but everything is different. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how all of these things in the legal world happen.
Our office was closed for about 8 weeks. I was working by email, phone and video conference, but not meeting in-person with anybody. Now everybody wears a face covering in our office – me, Meredith, clients, other attorneys, delivery people – everybody. In addition to our regularly-scheduled office cleanings, Meredith cleans every surface that somebody may have touched immediately after they leave the office.
The court system was closed for many weeks this spring, dealing with only true emergencies, which means primarily criminal law situations where individuals’ freedom is at issue. Family law and estate administration legal issues were not considered emergencies and were put on hold. That means some of my clients had court hearings scheduled in March or April that are only now being rescheduled.
The court system is now operating, but with some significant changes. In most counties, proceedings (conferences and court hearings) are being held by video conference or phone conference instead of in-person. Almost all in-person court appearances require the participants and attorneys to wear face coverings and some courthouses are checking everybody’s temperature before entering.
I don’t know if or when the court system and our office procedures will go back to “normal” so my focus is on helping clients navigate the current reality as effectively and efficiently as possible. My prediction is that the “normal” to which we return will not be the same social environment we inhabited in December 2019. For example, I seriously wonder if the majority of people will ever return to routinely shaking hands or otherwise touching people in greeting them.
If you live or work in the central Pennsylvania area, including Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hershey and surrounding communities and would like to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the legal world or any other family law or estate planning or administration issue, please contact me.