Law firms will be allowed to bring lawyers and staff back to the office in the second phase of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s reopening plan. Beginning today, five parts of the state entered the first phase of the plan while other regions must wait until they reach certain criteria established to slow the spread of the virus.
While no part of the state has yet to hit the second phase, it makes sense for law firms to plan now how to safely reopen. The New York State Bar Association appointed a working group to give advice to the rest of the profession as it prepares for that eventuality.
Marian C. Rice, partner at L’Abatte Balkan on Long Island and David Schraver, of counsel at Nixon Peabody in Rochester, both members of the NYSBA Working Group to Reopen Law Firms, were this week’s guests on the Miranda Warnings podcast. They discussed the model reopening plan released last week and its nine guidelines to help law firms across the state get back to working safely as quickly as possible.
Schraver, a former president of NYSBA, discussed the steps law firms should be taking right now in the weeks leading to the phase two reopening.
“Firms should be planning and organizing a team of people to understand these guidelines and figure out how they can be applied to their specific circumstances,” Schraver told show host David Miranda. “People managing law firms regardless of the size and location need to think about how they’re going to reopen safely.”
The guests discussed testing policies, reopening plans specific to each firm’s needs and the redesigning of office space to allow for social distancing.
Rice said how important it is for firms in regions that remain closed to monitor the metrics set forth by the governor so they will be ready when phase two begins.
Schraver, whose firm Nixon Peabody has offices across the state, explained that firms like his should discourage interoffice travel and might need to open different offices at different times.
The guests also talked about the announcement from Chief Judge Janet DiFiore that 30 upstate county courthouses would be included in phase one of the state’s reopening plan. They saw this as a wonderful first step for litigators whose businesses have been curtailed by the courthouse closures.