New York State Bar Association Task Force Begins To Unravel the Impact of COVID-19 on New Lawyers and Law Students
Technology and remote learning have provided more flexibility and a new way of achieving a work/life balance for new lawyers and law students, participants at a discussion on the post-pandemic future of the profession said at a forum Wednesday night.
Prior to COVID-19, Sophia Terrassi, an associate at Ingerman Smith, said “The practice of law, especially in your first few years, was going to be highly intense, you are going to be spending an incredible amount of time in the office and I believed that.” However, the ability to work from home “added a great deal to the quality of life for a younger associate.”
Remote learning and working also opened doors to attorneys seeking more CLE opportunities, digital file-sharing and maintenance and internships in faraway places. One new lawyer said that prior to the pandemic she was working under a partner in a firm and would have likely stayed there but going remote gave her the flexibility and confidence to start her own practice.
Samantha Ladines, a 2L law student, also touched on an important value in having access to remote learning. The ability to log in to a course, “if I was sick or I couldn’t go in, even if that meant not having my camera on.” It allowed her to “benefit every day from a class” and not miss a lecture or fall behind.
Opportunities for all have become available in this age of remote education, the Task Force on the Post-Pandemic Future of the Profession learned. Terrence Holly Fraser, a 20-year tax lawyer with the United States Treasury Department, has returned to the classroom, remotely. He is taking graduate courses at Columbia University, and is inspired by being in a class of students from all over the world. He said that prior to the pandemic, this may not have been possible . This gives, “people around the world who are qualified to be in the program an opportunity … to obtain a solid education remotely.”
Practice makes perfect
The word “pivot” has been used so many times in the last 18 months, it’s almost tiring to type it. However, the attendees of the forum understood that with the positives that evolved from the “pivot” to “going remote,” there would naturally be negatives. James R. Barnes, co-chair of the Working Group on New Lawyers and Law Students, asked the group to spend some time reflecting on life after the pandemic and the expectations of the profession moving forward.
A lack of connection, difficulty networking, worry about learning skills at a new job without having in-person experiences, and mental health awareness were all brought up. Those who “had it good” were interns/employees that had daily check-ins with their employers, mentoring throughout the day by coworkers and by peers, and those whose employers implemented new technology (Google chat, as an example) to bring their staff together to ease communication disconnect.
The good news is, as stated in the forum, there are resources to help and an open invitation from the New York State Bar Association and the task force to ask questions, join committees, brainstorm, and research ways to make the profession excel in this post-pandemic world.
By participating in these forums, new lawyers and law students can shape the way the field evolves. If you were unable to attend the forum, three more are scheduled and everyone is welcome to register. In addition, the task force has released two surveys requesting the response of all members to complete. The goal of the surveys, as highlighted by Mark A. Berman, task force co-chair, is to create a report based on the findings, and to “make a difference, not something speculative, but to make real recommendations that will guide the future of the profession.” To fill out the surveys, follow the links below:
Link to Law Student Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/postpandemiclawstudent
Link to General Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SQCMBVD
Law Practice Management and Technology
Tuesday, Nov. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Click here to register: https://nysba.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUkdumvqDguG9TywDxFH_CznUobQNSfsBe_
Access to Justice
Tuesday, Dec. 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Click here to register: https://nysba.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAkfuigqj4tHN0OWX2jFWpZZwWOSO3m2Z7i
These non-CLE forums are free to attend, but pre registration is required.