How Will The Coronavirus Change The Way Lawyers Serve And Charge Clients?
Diane Bradshaw, Esq. Attorney, Principal of Bradshaw Law Group P.C., New York City
Other Contributors :
Image by Sang Hyun Cho, Pixabay
I became a lawyer later in my life. Before entering law school, I spent 30 years in the entertainment world as a writer, producer, and editor. I also was a successful actor, and appeared in many movies, TV shows, theater productions, and concerts.
I began to practice law because it seemed like a way to do the right thing. Clients are usually people who are suffering in some way – whether they are spouses on the brink of divorce, landlords who want to remove tenants from their property, or even tenants who want to stay in a rental but can’t pay, or feel, for some reason or another, that they shouldn’t pay as much.
Even before the Coronavirus started sweeping through the world, at the end of every day I was always asking myself what difference I made. That question has taken on increased gravity in our new world.
Right now, I’m working from home and starting to ask myself more questions about how I can become a better lawyer. Here are some of the questions that I’m asking myself.
Can I spare more time for pro bono cases?
In this time of crisis, every business is volatile. Every person is faced with legal and ethical questions that no one has ever addressed before. Some of these people just don’t have the money to pay a lawyer.
While I have a reasonable amount of work to do for “paying” clients, I’ve started seeing that I have some time for pro bono clients too. Of course, I need money. But I’m also in a position where I can stretch my intellect and skills to help our society face new challenges. And I can help by charging less – or nothing – to people who couldn’t usually afford my services.
Can I expand my services?
I started Bradshaw Law Group P.C. in 2018, after 11 years of litigation experience.
We are a full service boutique law firm with practices including:
- intellectual property
- entertainment law
- complex commercial and general litigation
- real estate
- wills and estate administration
- marital and family law
- elder law
I have always been a risk-taker, more inclined to say, “Why not?” than “absolutely not.”
I am more eager than ever to stretch and grow into new areas of practice – not only because I can build my skill level, but because I might be able to provide just the right solution in a challenging situation for a clientele whom I don’t usually serve.
Just because you’ve specialized in certain areas of law for years doesn’t mean you can’t use this time to learn about new areas of practice.
What services will be needed in a Post-Coronavirus world?
Just as the crisis hit, I was starting to dip my toes into Mediation and Alternate Dispute Resolution. In New York, where I work, this has been a growing means of resolution.
I bet it will only get bigger post-Covid-19.
As society and the Courts emerge from this time of upheaval, there will be a huge backlog of cases, and a huge number of new, complicated cases. It will become increasingly necessary to find new solutions to unprecedented issues.
Let’s use this time to rethink how we can new find legal remedies to solve disputes related to:
- general contracts
- landlord-tenant issues
- construction cases
- family law
- criminal cases
The solutions on the books, the ones we’ve relied on for so long, might no longer work. The parties will have to come together in the “brave new world.”
The time is now for lawyers to come up with compromises, concessions, and creative arrangements that might not have seemed acceptable in the pre-crisis environment.
How can we help those who are too scared to ask for a lawyer’s help?
As lawyers, we spend a lot of time thinking about the clients who reach out to us for help. But let us not forget that huge segments of the population who are too worried, panicked, anxious, and isolated to ever call or email us.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I can help victims of domestic abuse and those with mental health issues. The Coronavirus has exacerbated their needs.
How can we reach out to them so they don’t have to make the first move and reach out to us?
How can these people ever get effective relief and justice during a time when offenses against them will be surely aggravated?
How can I turn a crisis into an opportunity?
It is said that the Mandarin representation of the concept of “crisis” is composed of two symbols – one representing “danger” and the other representing “opportunity.”
Many thought leaders, including Deepak Chopra, have observed that obstacles are actually opportunities. I couldn’t agree more.
Lawyers, let’s take this time to breathe and think.
Breath is what keeps us alive. Without it, we die.
This precious gift of breath is severely threatened by the Coronavirus.
Right now, let those of us who can breathe take a collective breath for all of those who are struggling to breathe.