NYSBA in the News: Reopening Plans For Law Firms, Expanding Pro Bono Service and Helpful Tweets

By Brendan Kennedy

May 14, 2020

NYSBA in the News: Reopening Plans For Law Firms, Expanding Pro Bono Service and Helpful Tweets


By Brendan Kennedy

As many upstate areas and courts prepare to reopen this week and millions of New Yorkers financially impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis are still unable to pay their rent, the New York State Bar Association is continuing to provide assistance to the legal community on how to safely reopen law firms and connect landlords and tenants with pro bono legal services.

NYSBA President Hank Greenberg was quoted in Bloomberg Law, Law360, New York Law Journal, and Buffalo Business Journal stories about NYSBA’s ‘model reopening plan’ that intends to help law firms get back to work as quickly as possible while protecting employees and clients.

“This is driven first and foremost, and in every way, by public health considerations,” said NYSBA President Hank Greenberg. At the same time, the guidelines, which he said are likely to be revised as facts on the ground change, were written with a practical understanding of how law offices function.

The guidance is definitely not meant as green light for major law firms in Manhattan to immediately reopen their doors, said Greenberg, an Albany, New York-based shareholder with Greenberg Traurig. He said that city and state leaders have clearly prohibited them from doing so, for now.

Greenberg said the state bar guidelines should be seen as ways law firms should begin thinking about how to safely function on Day 1 of their restart—whenever that may be. – Bloomberg Law – May 13, 2020

NYSBA President Hank Greenberg noted that the phase likely will be implemented at different times in different sectors of New York state, with locales in New York City likely needing to wait until later.

“People should think about how they will reopen before they reopen,” Greenberg told Law360 on Wednesday. “No one should be figuring this out on Day One.” – Law360 – May 13, 2020

“We want to give them our best thinking now.”

Greenberg, the state bar president and a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, said while some parts of the guidance may look like common sense, “it’s not actually.”

“Lawyers are not public health experts, nobody should guess their way through this process. They should be looking at the best available information,” he said.

He said there may be updates to the guidance based on public health considerations in the future.

“Law firms around the state are thinking about planning for reopening,” Greenberg said. “Large law firms have task forces and committees and general counsel of firms that are working in real-time on reopening,” including getting supplies of personal protective equipment.

“Litigators,” Greenberg said, “are making do now, but it certainly could be done more efficiently if people could be in their office.” – New York Law Journal – May 13, 2020

The New York State Bar Association has issued guidance to law firms that are anticipating reopening. “These vitally important guidelines are a must-read so that law firms of all sizes in every region of the state will be better equipped to handle the new normal,” says Henry Greenberg, the association’s president. Law firms are part of the second phase of the state’s reopening plan. – Buffalo Business Journal – May 14, 2020

Reuters mentioned the reopening plan guidance as well, and Bloomberg Law referenced it in a second story.

GlobeSt.com and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle quoted Greenberg in a story about the creation of a NYSBA working group that will help the state courts plan for an anticipated increase in landlord-tenant disputes resulting from COVID-19 health crisis.

Henry M. Greenberg, president of the New York State Bar Association, noted that when the eviction moratorium lifts there will be an expected surge in landlord-tenant disputes. “We must therefore plan for that eventuality and recommend steps that can be taken to ensure due process for all concerned,” he said. – GlobeSt.com – May 13, 2020

“The governor’s swift action to put evictions on hold kept New Yorkers safe when they needed refuge during shelter-in-place orders,” said NYSBA President Hank Greenberg. “When the moratorium lifts, the courts will be burdened by an unprecedented number of landlord-tenant disputes. Likewise, the demand for legal services by those who cannot afford an attorney will skyrocket. We must therefore plan for that eventuality and recommend steps that can be taken to ensure due process for all concerned.” – Brooklyn Daily Eagle – May 13, 2020

NYSBA’s landlord-tenant working group also received coverage in the Albany Times-Union.

On Twitter, New York Assemblymember Monica Wallace tweeted out a link to NYSBA’s Unemployment Insurance Relief site, as a PSA to her constituents.

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