COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on the world. It has also affected litigation. Trials have been delayed because we cannot gather and select juries. Hearings have been delayed. Some of the work necessary to prepare cases for trial have been delayed as well, such as depositions and inspections. People have been hesitant to reach out to a lawyer for help because they cannot meet with them or find their offices closed to client meetings. But COVID cannot delay justice and should not prevent individuals from seeking to resolve disputes. And it hasn’t stopped trial lawyers from doing our jobs – resolving disputes.
Even with our focus on safety and well-being, as trial lawyers, we must be available to clients. We have been. Fortunately, technology allows us to accomplish most of what we do without needing to be physically present with others. We can still meet with clients virtually, prepare documents remotely, file lawsuits online, conduct legal research and investigations online, negotiate resolutions via telephone, participate in mediations via teleconference, and settle cases that would otherwise eventually be tried.
One of our jobs as attorneys is to take some of the burdens of worrying about a conflict from our clients. “Let me worry about it,” we often find ourselves saying. Being able to share the pain, frustration, disappointment, and hurt with someone who is going to help solve, compensate, or mediate those issues can be truly therapeutic. While meeting someone face-to-face without masks is preferable, finding some way to engage with a lawyer – a trial lawyer – is better than carrying the burden alone.
Courts have not closed. We have not stopped working for our clients. Regardless of the dispute, there is a lot that must be done to prepare for its resolution. And we are busy doing those things for our clients. Though jury trials and some court hearings have been delayed, that simply gives us more time to prepare.
Dispute resolution is a process. A conflict is not likely to resolve itself. The sooner the process is begun, the sooner it is resolved. As lawyers, ultimately it is a court that can resolve a dispute. But the reality is that over 98% of cases filed are resolved before trial. So, delays in trials do not necessarily prevent dispute resolution.
What better time to get the ball rolling? Our clients let us worry about the legal issues so they can focus more of their energy on more pressing needs. They don’t let their daily demands prevent them from moving forward. That nagging, pesky, frustrating wrong can be eased simply by sharing it with someone who cares and who can help resolve it. Trial lawyers can. It’s why we do what we do.