In light of COVID-19, many states and communities have ordered stay-at-home declarations to try and slow the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve.” These stay-at-home or “Safer-at-Home” declarations call for workers in non-essential industries to remain home unless they have essential business to complete.
Often, when governors and mayors order stay-at-home declarations, it can lead to questions of whether specific industries are considered essential workers. For example, when Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt issued an emergency declaration for “Safer-at-Home,” Oklahoma claimant attorney Bob Burke wasn’t sure at first whether or not he would be able to continue seeing his clients. Gov. Stitt quickly amended the order and allowed various industries, including legal services, to continue operating.
Burke was far from alone during these uncharted times.
Lawyers across the country are in limbo
Across the country, personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys are discovering just how essential they are to the public. Many of the nation’s governors have labeled them as part of the essential workforce and have allowed them to continue to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared that law firms (and their employees) are on the state’s “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” list. Likewise, law firms are also on the exemption lists in Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Illinois.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, issued a much stricter declaration that didn’t include legal services as an essential business. By comparison, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy allowed law firms to remain open; however, they must make accommodations for those who need or want to do their business from home.
How The Babcock Law Firm is dealing with COVID-19
Here at The Babcock Law Firm, Mack Babcock and his team of Denver-based injury attorneys and legal staff are working from home, regardless of Colorado’s allowance for law firms to stay open. We seek to find a balance between keeping our employees safe and healthy while still providing the community with the valuable services we offer.
As Babcock recently told WorkCompCentral:
“I’m an attorney, yes, but I’m also a business owner. Fortunately for me, we were already set up to be pretty remote. Certainly, the attorneys and managerial staff were already working remotely. So, that transition for my employees was pretty easy. We had decided to go 100 percent remote anyway. We issued instructions that we’re doing everything over the phone.”
In order to conduct meetings, we are using the teleconference program Zoom so that we can continue to virtually meet “face-to-face” with our clients. This decision to go fully remote allows us to continue serving clients since this virus won’t cause their case to stop.
“My clients’ conditions are not put on pause,” said Babcock. “My clients’ ability to work is not put on pause.”
Therefore, we won’t stop working on behalf of our clients.
In this time of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe. Make sure you wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.