Fun fact: There was no class on pandemics in law school.
Sure, we briefly joked about the power that Governors and Presidents COULD exert in case of an emergency but it was mostly in the context of nuclear war and talking about how a Secretary of Commerce could become President (yes, this was way before Designated Survivor).
And yet this week, my fellow lawyers and I have been fielding calls that would’ve seemed absolutely crazy a few weeks ago.
The weird thing is that I’ve been driving a few of my friends, family and colleagues a little crazy with my predictions for over a month that we were headed here. I got designated a COVID-19 “expert” (no certificate required!) early on and frankly, I think they were humoring me.
How DO you practice law in a pandemic?
In answering that I’m reminded of a joke about how you tell the difference between a male and female bear?
Over the course of this week in particular, I’ve had several conference calls with my fellow partners and associates about how we are addressing our clients’ issues and how do we have solutions to questions that there is no precedent for.
What I appreciate is that we’ve done it with a sense of urgency balanced with the need to get it right. Each time, we’ve done our homework and talked things through. That’s a start on how you practice.
And also ask: How are the very tough decisions we make today going to look with hindsight?
That’s something I’ve tried to impart on the people I’ve talked with this week.
There are no easy solutions.
No “low hanging fruit” for us to pluck off and claim victory.
I heard from a American friend tonight who works in China running a legal department for a major company.
“You will get through it. We are slowly getting back to normal over here. And, your closets will be incredibly organized! Hang in there.”
Today was the first day when I felt some optimism that that will be the case.
I know my firm has been nimble and we’re geared up (as many others are) to work remotely and continue to help our clients. I know practicing law now means helping our clients in a way without precedent.
Stay safe and healthy everyone. Let’s flatten the curve, isolate if we can so that our first responders, health care workers, delivery people, utility workers and more can stay healthy through this pandemic.
When we get through this — no doubt with some rough days ahead — we will be wiser and stronger.
And we will have amazing closets.