The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges and changes to the way we all live and how we do business. As we continue to provide essential legal services, we have adapted to ensure our clients’ legal needs are met in a safe and timely manner.
Our litigation practice has changed as courthouses have curtailed access. The Florida Supreme Court and the Chief Judges for the various judicial circuits have issued administrative orders which address current health and safety concerns for the litigants, the judiciary, and the attorneys while ensuring that cases can continue to move forward. Courts are addressing critical public health concerns by limiting in person proceedings, and shifting proceedings, to the extent possible, to socially distant but effective virtual forums.
Zoom has become the platform of choice for many courts. The Zoom format allows hearings, depositions, mediations, client meetings and other meetings, and even non-jury trials to proceed while ensuring that litigants’ interests are fully protected and safety protocols are followed. This mandated shift to electronic proceedings has yielded some benefits like reducing some of the time involved for live versions of these events. It has also required broader technological adaptation by members of the legal community, the judiciary, and the public. As a result, by adapting to the digital platform, litigants’ cases can continue to proceed without suffering undue delays, or the loss of their ability to gather the information, witness testimony, and preparation needed to continue to move cases forward to resolution.
In our real estate practice, we are offering ‘curbside closings,’ using remote notaries, and document signings through car windows. Zoom calls with clients, agents and lenders help us bring the parties and their deals together. These adaptations have been important since there has been an increased demand for residential real estate closings. We are seeing people relocating from certain urban hot spots, families impacted by pandemic-related closings of businesses, schools and universities, and other clients who desire to move to their second homes due to health or economic changes. Historically low lending rates are also fueling refinancing needs, which are also being served as requested with our drive-through closing services. All attorneys and staff members assisting our clients are wearing masks and adhering to appropriate social distancing for client and staff protection.
As commercial leasing is experiencing pandemic induced economic stresses, we are also working to assist commercial landlords and commercial tenants to structure necessary accommodations. Both landlords and their tenants are being impacted by business closures, operational reductions, constricted cash flow, and reduced consumer demand.
We are continuing to provide estate planning services with accommodations similar to those offered to our real estate clients, to provide document signings in safe settings, curbside or as requested. Predictably, concerns over the health related impacts of Covid-19 have prompted clients to update their estate plans and/or plan for business succession.
We are also assisting businesses and non-profit clients to adapt to changes in day-to-day operations and re-configure business structures, staffing, and operations as more employees work remotely. As the economic impacts of the pandemic affect a wider swath of our community, we are also helping clients with applications for the payroll protection plan loans and other government programs aimed at helping businesses through this challenging time.
Labor and employment related issues have also arisen, as businesses face the challenges involving their employees who become ill or who face childcare difficulties and safe schooling concerns. Remote work has become a more prevalent option for many employers whose employees seek to balance their continued productivity while safeguarding their more vulnerable family members.
In our health care practice, we are also assisting clients to meet the changing patient and physician interface and regulatory issues that relate to providing telehealth and telemedicine services more widely.
Despite the challenges of this difficult time, we are optimistic that together we will see better days ahead. We remain committed to making a difference for you and for our community. We will continue to provide exceptional legal services to you, our valued clients.