Some legal professionals are wrongly exploiting the pandemic
Most lawyers have acted admirably and worked together to move the matter forward despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. In fact, many attorneys have courtesy email copies of papers, knowing that most people work from home, compromised because the courts are congested, and have worked together to resolve issues during the Solve pandemic. However, some lawyers have taken advantage of the pandemic to serve their own interests. While every lawyer has a duty to zealously represent their clients, some lawyers have unfairly taken advantage of the current terms and conditions.
For example, some lawyers have made it difficult for their opponents to work from home during this difficult time. In almost all of my cases, attorneys agree to relax the typical service requirements as it is far easier to accept delivery of claims and discovery documents by email than it is under normal circumstances by mail. However, recently I heard the story of an adversary who distributed a notice stating that the law firm would refuse electronic service for applications, discovery papers and the like. Forcing people to go to the post office or the office unnecessarily during a pandemic is extremely rude, and while there may be some circumstances in which electronic services should be rejected, such flexibility can be crucial right now.
In addition, some people seem to take advantage of the fact that people are not in their offices to be aware of certain parts of the process process. In many countries, parties can provide approval notices (also called approval applications) to other parties asking them to approve or reject important facts about a case or whether certain documents are complete and genuine. If the receiving party does not refuse any of the requirements in such detection devices by a certain point in time, the requirements can be considered approved. I have anecdotally heard of some attorneys sending such requests to law firms despite knowing that people work from home in the hopes that opponents will not see the applications for admission and will be deemed admitted. This is not a fair tactic, and a court would likely find so much when faced with a request for protection or other relief from the party harmed by the tactic. Individuals shouldn’t be clandestine as most people are currently working from home and in such cases email copies of documents.
Lawyers seem to be taking advantage of the pandemic by delaying deposits to delay litigation when it makes sense. At the start of the pandemic, lawyers rightly argued that deposits should be postponed as it wasn’t safe to hold personal deposits that may be easier to hold at a later date. As the months of the pandemic passed, it became clear that personal deposits would not be advisable for some time, but people continued to argue that deposits should be withheld until they can appear in person.
Of course, personal deposits tend to be better as it is easier to assess a person’s reactions in the same room and exhibits are difficult to introduce during virtual deposits. In addition, statements that require translators are often much easier to do in person due to the additional steps involved in translating certificates. However, the lawyers have been running virtual tipping throughout the pandemic. While some attorneys may wish to delay cases, they should not be allowed to adjourn deposits so that they can be held in person.
In addition, many parties appear to be taking advantage of the fact that cases are no longer handled as closely as they were before the pandemic and that it is now more difficult to obtain judicial intervention than it was before the pandemic. The first time I drove a long distance during the pandemic, I was amazed at how few police officers I saw on the street. Perhaps the police were called in to help with the increasing number of ambulances I saw in my area when New York City was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, but suffice it to say at that time it was only few police officers were there to regulate traffic. This had a profound impact on drivers and I saw people doing some incredible things on the road when my area was facing the worst of the pandemic. Perhaps some motorists thought that since there were fewer police officers and it was unlikely that they would get a ticket, they could do what they wanted.
Some lawyers seem to act similarly. Knowing that judges are dealing with a backlog and it can take some time to get an assignment after filing a motion, some attorneys may be more eager to turn down discovery requests or reach the kind of compromises we all do during one Enter into litigation. Certain legal matters have become a little like the Wild West due to the pandemic, and some lawyers are taking advantage of the lack of judicial scrutiny.
All in all, while many attorneys have acted admirably during the pandemic, some lawyers have wrongly used the present circumstances to their advantage. Hopefully, courts and colleagues will have long memories of people that it was more difficult to handle legal matters during these challenging times.
Jordan Rothman is a partner at Rothman Law Firm, a full-service law firm in New York and New Jersey. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website that discusses how he paid off his student loan. You can contact Jordan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.