The high demand for lawyers amid the coronavirus pandemic
From advising employers how to respond when an employee tests positive for coronavirus to counseling employees afraid of catching it at the office, lawyers are working around the clock to help clients navigate the uncharted legal waters sparked by the rapidly spreading COVID-19.
Some law firms have created multidisciplinary task forces to assist clients, both domestic and international, in tackling the myriad challenges posed by the pandemic.
These lawyers and firms are helping others at the same time they are grappling with the significant effects of coronavirus on their own operations, such as the need to close their offices and require employees to work remotely.
Firms are also bracing for the pandemic’s long-term economic impacts that could boost demand for some legal services, while depressing the market for others.
Guidance for Employees and Healthcare Institutions
Lawyers who represent employees say they too have been fielding a steady stream of questions from workers about the implications of coronavirus, particularly as it relates to the safety of their workplaces.
Carney Shegerian, founder of California-based Shegerian & Associates, says he advises employees worried about symptoms they are experiencing—or are fearful of experiencing down the line if they remain in their workplace—to request their employers provide reasonable accommodations as required by law.
“It is just a blatant violation of the law if they are not accommodating them, including [through] work-at-home situations,” Shegerian says.
Unsurprisingly, health care lawyers also have been in high demand in recent weeks.
Attorney Melissa L. Markey says she has been busy advising health care institution clients not only how to respond appropriately to patients diagnosed with coronavirus or exhibiting symptoms of it, but also how to properly address the concerns of employees and the broader community.
The Denver-based lawyer at Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, P.C. says she has emphasized that while COVID-19 must be taken very seriously, health care officials should take steps to avoid creating “undue panic.”
“We are working with our clients to approach this in a very logical, reasoned and science-focused way,” Markey says.