The Covid diaries: Day 21 - The way we were

The Covid diaries: Day 21 - The way we were

A daily fly-on-the-wall blog about running a legal business during the Covid-19 crisis.

By Darren Isaacs - 15 April

Another day and another unexpected law firm mini-crisis to sort out.

What do you do when court rules require you to print, sign and send court papers to the other side - but you no longer have any office infrastructure to work from and you are stuck at home (as are any admin support personnel you previously relied upon)?

Queue today's latest drama and a flurry of emails: Who has a printer at home? Who's got paper? Who can sign this document? And, most crucially, who can make the stress-inducing trip to the post office to send something to the other side (not counting those of us who are higher-risk)?

We used to take all of this for granted. I mean, of all the stupid little things we had to worry about in the past - popping something in the mail was just not one of them.

Some of our courts have moved very quickly to modify their procedures in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. But most of those modifications relate to how the main show - hearings - are dealt with (answer: a massive move online).

And often our fellow lawyers - even those on the other side - are being pragmatic and much more flexible with complying with procedural matters.

There are, however, still things that are a bit tricky to comply with in the "new world". Serving court papers (in the post or in person) is one of them.

Another one is how you get settlement papers "signed" and returned by an ex-employee, when the same ex-employee quite reasonably says they have no printer (to print something off at home for signing), no scanner (to scan something back), no witness in the same household to witness anything, and who does not want to deal with paperwork handed over by a courier because they are self-isolating.

All relatively minor problems in the grand scheme of things but making lawyers all over the country have a new-found love and appreciation of (1) the magic our admin support staff used to make happen, (2) the tech that supported us in an office that we took for granted, and (3) a decent supply of paper. Ah, those were the days.

If you would like to read our Covid diaries starting from day 1 please click here.