The B.C. Provincial Government declared legal services to be an essential service so most lawyers are continuing to work and serve their clients. Lawyers and their staff are either working from home or if they are in the office they are practicing social distancing. Clients are “seen” on Zoom, Facetime, Skype or by telephone. Clients and lawyers can sign documents either in person or in some instances virtually. The courts are all closed except for emergency applications which are being dealt with by judges virtually.
Now at the end of the 5th week of this pandemic all of these new systems are in place and they are working well. There are however some interesting changes that I am aware of.
The first is that clients are being patient, respectful and grateful for the help they are able to receive. There is an atmosphere of calm where before the crisis everyone was anxious to resolve their issues yesterday.
The second is that the closure of courts is a wonderful thing. People are now not able to resort to litigation to resolve their problems and from my experience they are rising to the occasion. Clients and lawyers are taking more reasonable positions and working together to solve their issues. It’s not an easy challenge to expect someone who is going through a stressful separation or divorce to act reasonably and calmly but for the most part I can see this happening. Hopefully this will continue after the courts reopen.
Deborah A. Todd