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With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to evolve, many industries will see a shift in what was once considered the norm. Leaders in every field are moving with diligence to ensure the best interest and protection of their business, employees, and clients. With the dust just beginning to settle, it’s crucial to get an adept understanding of the Business and economic implications resulting from the Coronavirus. 

As a society, we have confided in the council and opinions of trusted attorneys since the dawn of this country. Lawmen in almost every practice area have always played a key role in making sense of unsettling times. With that being said, a State Representative and some of the nation’s most decorated and respected attorneys and law firms weigh in on their experiences thus far dealing with the ramifications of this crisis that is impacting life as we know it. 

1. Mike Gottlieb, is a Florida State Representative & Criminal Defense Attorney on the Federal and State levels that has been operating the bulk of his practice electronically due to COVID-19, while still catering to his client’s every need. “We remained open via ZOOM and other virtual media. As an essential industry, we needed to be virtually present for our clients, some of whom were incarcerated. By remaining open, we were able to get many released from jail, and even closed out a few cases.” Gottlieb misses the face to face value of being in front of a judge in a courtroom but is doing all he is able while courtrooms are closed to the public. “Business is a little more casual. There have been few face to face meetings. Those meetings are very crucial in my industry as it helps form the attorney-client relationship and bond. Speaking with the State has also proven difficult because, via ZOOM, you also lose the personal connection, especially when plea bargaining. At the same time, we have taken advantage of the technology and appeared in several different locales in the same day or week, without having to travel.” Gottlieb spoke with a warm passion when talking about his clients, and it’s clear the new interface of doing things will not at all get in his way. 

2. Lori D. Palmieri, Criminal Justice Act Panel Representative for the Middle District of Florida, and founder of Palmieri Law, focusing on Criminal Defense, has remained open reaching her 30th year of practice. Palmieri states that clientele is at a slight decrease due to the Coronavirus. “The primary difference has been the lack of new clients because of COVID-19. Arrests are down as law enforcement did not want to incarcerate more people during the pandemic. There are no seated grand juries for new indictments in federal court. Court has been conducted through ZOOM or telephone conferences. Jails have been closed to in-person visits, so client conferences have been limited to telephone calls or video conferencing as well. The lack of confidential communications with incarcerated clients has been difficult to advance cases toward conclusion, whether through guilty pleas or trials. There are no available jurors, so the timetable to resume jury trials is unknown at this time.”

3. Steven Wright, founder of Steven Wright Law, that mostly handles Family, Personal Injury, Toxic Mold, Mass Torts, and Criminal Defense, has been working remotely on reduced office hours, yet still paid his staff their normal full-time pay. “We saw a large decrease in the number of clients that were calling and less that were retaining. Most of my office worked remotely for about 2-3 weeks, but everyone was given their normal 8-hour pay for an entire month. However, we have stayed “open” throughout the entire lockdown.” Wright misses dealing with his clients face-to-face but is still doing everything he can to take care of his clients. “Most of my cases that require court appearances have stopped. I have not been to a courthouse in almost two months. When we are doing things for civil cases, most of it is taking place via zoom or simple emails. Many consults have moved to being over the phone as well. I try and be as personable to my clients and prefer face to face, so I feel like it has lost a little bit of the personal/intimacy that I try and bring to this profession.” Steven Wright feels for everyone affected by this crisis. “I like helping the little guy. I don’t look at them as case numbers or a dollar sign. That is one reason I like face-to-face meetings so much. I don’t defend the big insurance companies or corporations. I try and help the individual that has been wronged in some way. Whether it be they were hit in a car wreck, their apartment neglected mold growing in their home, or a custody dispute, I always try and help everyone.”

4. Stephen Le Brocq, a cofounder of Le Brocq & Horner, PLLC, focusing on criminal defense, family, personal injury, and immigration law, was legally obligated to temporarily close due to COVID-19. “Our Business was forced to close due to the local stay-at-home orders. Our firm, out of the abundance of caution, transitioned to remote platforms for all of our staff and continue to do so, as of today.” Le Brocq has shifted mostly into the digital realm, still taking care of whatever his clients may need. “Nearly all aspects of our business has changed. Since we are working remotely, we have not done any in-person consultations for almost two months. Also, court has been suspended with the exception of emergency matters. Finally, we have been using video conferencing for depositions, mediations, and some small court hearings. We have effectively transitioned to a virtual practice, but our caseload remains pretty much the same.” Stephen Le Brocq’s mission remains the same even though the crisis. “While we are a smaller firm, we maintain a high-volume litigation docket. We are able to help clients with a variety of issues and are a one-stop-shop. Our firm has multiple locations throughout the metroplex to serve clients no matter where they reside.”

5. David Simmons, the founder of The Law Office of David G. Simmons, who primarily focuses on Criminal Law, has been “open” as much as they can during the pandemic. Simmons is doing everything he can for his clients, while also being at risk due to previous medical conditions. “I love my job, but due to the risks associated with the county jails, courthouses, and my prior medical condition, this causes me a greater difficulty. Covid-19 has done a great deal to affect my ability to stay open. Soon everything that I do will be considered pro bono.” Simmons detests the fact that he can’t visit clients in jail, as well as personally visit with clients that are not in jail to actively discuss cases with the State Attorney’s Office due to strict regulations.

6. Brian Byrd, founder of ByrdLaw, P.A. is a criminal defense firm that focuses on more serious criminal law violations such as 2nd-degree felonies and higher. Byrd has witnessed first hand the seriousness of the virus. “COVID-19 has affected everyone in my industry that I know in a profound way. A lawyer in my office, his wife contracted the virus and barely survived. Our office was closed completely for fourteen days, and the difference in receipts during this time wasn’t just that of a decline, but pretty much stopped completely.” Brian Byrd states how vastly different Coronavirus has shaped law practices and shares his empathy to those who are reaping the short end of the stick – “The practice of law is entirely changed, as hearings are done almost entirely remotely, and the rights of those accused of crimes have pretty much gone by the wayside during the pandemic.” 

7. Dr. Shawn Council, the founder of Shawn Council Law Firm, mostly handles personal injury and business law. Dr. Council states that despite regularly working out of her office, she’s currently taking advantage of the digital realms to handle affairs, and her clients are welcoming the change too. “The practice of law will forever change as a result of the COVID 19 Pandemic. I worked remotely, primarily. I was already shifting my practice areas and had engaged a paralegal team to assist me with my growing caseload, remotely. I also had all of the necessary software and technological devices to communicate with the court and clients, again, remotely. I created a few use cases for Blockchain and delved into coding and software testing. Again, I was already moving into the technology space for the practice of law. Things just accelerated, and I had to pivot a little faster than initially planned. My clients were able to pivot with me too.” 

Dr. Council reports that despite the rapid changes, everything is going smoothly for the time being. “All transactions and communications occur remotely. Although I have a physical location, I no longer meet clients there. We Zoom, Facetime, use Microsoft Teams, Adobe electronically sign, about everything legal. Paypal payments were used to pay outstanding legal invoices. Everything went smoothly without a hitch. The redefining of the labor force was anticipated within five years, not overnight.” Council has been a litigator for the past two decades, but with courts closed she’s currently helping businesses successfully maneuver through COVID-19, pre-litigation remedies and dispute resolutions that do not involve court appearances, as well as advising business formation, contracts, real estate transactions, employment-related complaints, and compliance governance. 

8. Randy W. Ferguson, a co-founder of Ferguson & Ferguson Attorneys at Law, oversees personal injury and criminal law, while his partner does bankruptcy and divorce. Despite being in quarantine, work at Ferguson & Ferguson has no signs of curtailment. “Our office has been affected by the virus. Clients sitting in jail and getting no hearings. Divorce, domestic violence, and bankruptcies have been very busy. We have been working a lot of half days since courts closed. We have been a lot busier than most attorneys. We receive no unemployment or stimulus money since we are self-employed. Tried to stay away from direct contact with clients.” However, Ferguson does report that the phone lines were moving a little slower in the first month. “No court. Clients are having financial problems. Phone calls slowed way down for about 30 days since kids were at home with parents.”

In just a matter of weeks, Public Relations & Business has been altered drastically for everyone. These times will test the ability of many to adapt and remain resilient. As we each develop and execute our own plans for the future, it’s all the more necessary that we look to our nation’s most significant business owners, community leaders, for guidance and voice on what lies ahead. In the heat of the crisis, one thing is for sure, after hearing these testimonies from some of the nation’s top attorneys, we should never doubt the ability of the American people to come together and rise ahead with the proper knowledge, courage, and perseverance.

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Kotton Grammer

Kotton Grammer is the founder of several Agencies that specializes in Public Relations and Digital Marketing. Headquartered in Miami, FL.