Lawyers take steps to handle coronavirus challenges

Court closures and other drastic measures have been taken to combat the spread of Coronavirus; and law firms and bar associations are coping with this new challenge.

WCBA President Mark Jane said Section committee meetings are cancelled through the end of the month. The WCBA office is closed to members and the public until at least April 6. “The Board of Directors is meeting by conference call March 19 to discuss next step,” he says.

Kyeena Slater, executive director of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, is keeping the WCBA website updated and directing people to check court websites for updates. “We’re following the guidelines outlined in County Administrator Gregory Dill’s directive and the LAO from the Chief Judge of the Trial Court and14A District Courts Judge Carol Kuhnke, as far as meetings go,” she said.

Butzel Long, whose offices include those in Ann Arbor and Lansing, has launched an online Coronavirus Resource Center to address the legal, regulatory, and commercial implications of COVID-19.
“Our priority is to ensure our clients are well-informed on the legalities and implications of the coronavirus and how it will affect their businesses,” says Chief Marketing Officer Vanessa Crocetto. “We will add information and provide regular updates.”

Varnum—another firm whose many offices include Ann Arbor and Lansing—launched a COVID-19 Task Forceled by Varnum Executive Partner Scott Hill. In addition to such concerns as contractual agreements and the supply chain, labor and employment relations, policies to govern self-quarantine, and how to handle business immigration issues may arise. The task force may also draw on broad expertise to advise on timing for mergers and acquisitions.

“With global trade, we’re all so connected and tied together. We’re helping clients figure out how to find alternate sources of supply,” Hill says.

Mark A. Davis, president and CEO of Howard & Howard PLLC whose offices include one in Ann Arbor, said attorneys and staff who can work remotely will do so. The firm also has cancelled non-essential business travel and firm-sponsored social events.

“We are monitoring and following all federal, state, and local guidelines. Our first priority is making sure we fully engage in all of the efforts to stem the spread of this dangerous virus,” he sais. “With that being said, we have an ethical obligation to also protect our clients’ interests. Our offices will remain open with extremely reduced staff to handle day-to-day business functions. Anyone in the office is asked to practice social distancing. The goal is to implement best health and welfare practices while managing the business.”