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Nation’s Top Lawyers Speak Out

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 area of practice have always played a key role in making sense of unsettling times. With that being said, 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. Our Public Relations Firm investigates.

  1. Sarah Hobson, the co-founder of Hobson & Hobson, whose practice focuses on Divorce and Custody Law, has remained open during the quarantine due to being deemed as an essential business. “We remained open during quarantine as parental rights and access to children via court-ordered parenting time plans become a very contested issue during the quarantine period. Some parents saw this as an opportunity to alienate their children from the other parent. It was important to us to ensure that our clients had continuous contact with our team so that we could fight for their parental rights during a very scary time. We did limit people coming into the building as much as possible and practiced social distancing within the office to make our staff feel safe and protected.” Even though Hobson & Hobson is open, mediation and court hearings still must be handled digitally due to COVID-19. We’ve learned to do mediations and court hearings via video conferencing. We were able to make a smooth transition to this technology as we have used zoom in the past for interoffice meetings that require staff members to be at their computer.” Amidst these trying times, Hobson still remains true to her cause. We Focus on protecting parental rights and fighting for fair financial futures. We keep families together when marriages fall apart. I myself have a child from a prior relationship and despite our inability to succeed in a romantic partnership, we have agreed to be allies to each other so that our daughter can derive a healthy psychological identity from all her parents (biological and legal). Even though I am not married to her biological father, my husband and I consider him family because he is the biological father to our daughter. We understand that this approach is not healthy in circumstances where there is substance abuse or domestic violence. In those types of cases, we will throw down to protect the children from harm. But, when possible, we strive to help families experience what we have.”
  1. J.B. Lorenzo, Esq, founder of Lorenzo Law Firm, P.A. is a boutique law firm that handles startup issues, ongoing business issues, and conflicts regarding to the internet, eCommerce, intellectual property, technology, telecommunications, privacy, and consumer protection with over two decades of successfully practicing law. Amidst quarantine, Lorenzo states “The Lorenzo Law Firm spent several days figuring out the need to reschedule appointments, adjust to appointments being postponed, court dates postponed, and getting client matters set back. Overall we experienced a great slow down and a standstill that lasted over two months now extending into three months.” According to Lorenzo, everything has of course been drastically decelerated due to the outbreak. “Remote methods of communications and function have been implemented and personal meetings have been eliminated. legal research has slowed because of a slow down of legal work overall.  Transactions and filing for business activity have also been drastically reduced”.
  1. Timothy J. Cotter, the founder of The Law Offices of Timothy J Cotter, P.A, primarily focuses on areas regarding real estate closings and refinances, including corporate and limited liability company formations and builder and developer representation. Cotter’s law office has remained open through COVID-19. “Our business remained open, however more work than usual was, and currently is,  done over the phone and internet.  Clients are more cautious coming into the office, oftentimes wearing masks and gloves. A large bottle of hand sanitizer and bleach wipes are now at the front of the office so everyone can use them when they arrive. All surfaces are wiped down with bleach after anyone comes into the office.  Our business’s main focus is in the area of real estate law. A handful of real estate transactions were canceled by the buyers, additionally, some buyers requested and received price reductions from sellers because of the uncertainty in the real estate market caused by COVID-19.” According to Cotter, the main change in his firm since the outbreak is matters of real estate closings taking place digitally. “More closings are taking place through the internet and closing documents are also being recorded over the internet. This has been the trend over the past few years, but because of COVID-19, I believe the use of the internet for closings will become more and more common.
  1. Mark Miller, partner, and chief marketing director at Jordan Law, whose practices handles business law and personal injury, says that office is closed, but credits a smooth transition due to their cloud software. “We closed the office and worked remotely. Thankfully it wasn’t a huge change for us as we have always had cloud-based systems. We have also worked with other lawyers and clients to help them get set up remotely.” Despite a slow start, Miller states that business is progressing more and more. “As a business law and personal injury firm, we have seen a lot fewer car accidents during this time, but from the business law side it was slow for a few weeks but has picked up quite a bit lately.”
  1. Melisa L. Militello, the founder of Melisa L. Militello, P.A, is a criminal defense firm including traffic, DUI’s, all other misdemeanors, and all felony cases. The law offices of Melisa L. Militello, P.A also handles family law,  including divorces, child time-sharing, contempt, injunctions, modifications, and dependency cases. Mitello says that they have remained open during the pandemic, but have limited client meetings in the office. “The office remained open throughout however we did limit substantially the clients and walk-ins coming into the office to drop off paperwork or sign things and switched to having almost everything we could to be done electronically.  We upgraded our technology to include electronic signature and electronic notarization super quickly and set up zoom video conferencing.  The way our physical office is set up everyone essentially has their own office space that meets social distancing requirements so staff has never been right on top of each other and we instituted sanitizing and cleaning more often and certainly after any client came in.  We even had a couple of drive-up signings of documents for older clients that wanted to limit their exposure.  We do have the attorney employees working almost completely remotely because all live over an hour away and the majority of our court appearances are now through ZOOM.  The bulk of our consultations were via phone prior to Covid-19 so that wasn’t impacted much.” Militello states some of the noted changes to their Firm has been mostly from a technological perspective. “Switching to 100% phone consultations, limiting clients coming in the physical office, zoom meetings, technology upgrades. As well as  “attorneys having less presence in the physical office, working via computer, email, zoom, and phone.”
  1. Mehrnush Saadat, Esq, founder of Blue Ink Title, is a firm that handles real estate closings – whether buy/sell transactions, or refinances. Saadat states that real estate has changed dramatically since the quarantine. “Buyers have not been able to readily see properties and Sellers have been cautious about having anyone in their homes.  As such, inventory is lower than ever and moves quickly when it is available, but again, there are much fewer people that are buying and selling than there were in January and February.  April and May were a 1/3 of the volume we should have had for this time of year.  Interest rates are great which is propelling serious buyers though and helping clients refinance for amazing rates on both 15 year and 30-year mortgages!” Saadat’s law offices have remained open throughout COVID 19, but with the necessary changes to cater to their clients’ needs. “Although there was a new normal, we stayed open and worked in the office daily.  We did our best to stagger shifts with the team, and definitely separated clients for the closings (no more buyer and seller sitting at the same table right now).  We also accommodate clients as best as we could through virtual closings and the like, when possible, when requested and when allowed by all parties, including the lender and underwriters.” 
  1. Lisa C. Decker, CEO and founder of Divorce Money Matters, and DivorceTown USA, as well as the author of “How to Divorce Your Spouse, Not Your Money” is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst who’s firm is known throughout the country for “believing in a holistic, integrated, team approach to divorce.” Decker’s firm handles clients from across the country, so they were already used to working away from the office. “I have always served clients nationally and my business is structured to work remotely.  The way my practice generally operates, I work remotely except for specific client meetings during my engagement.  Currently, we are using secure Zoom sessions for normal “face to face” client interaction and it has been working very well.” Decker states that divorce rates are lower due to being quarantined with their partner, they are still trying to plan their next step for separation from their spouse. “The biggest impact we have felt is people simply not filing for divorce at this time.  Many people are hesitant to start the process while they are sheltering in place with their soon to be ex.  Others are concerned about reduction or loss of income and how that potentially impacts future support obligations with the divorce.  Basically, a lot of people are riding out the pandemic and waiting to see how it may affect them in the long-term before deciding whether or not they want to get divorced.  Of course, as many States and subsequently courts are starting to open up around the country, we may well see an influx of divorce petitions in the coming months.” Despite fewer people filing for divorce, Decker still remains true to her mission of doing all she can for her clients. “My clients include couples that both agree that it’s over and time to move on. They want their divorce to be amicable, fair, and as simplified as possible so they can keep legal fees to a minimum and maximize their financial strategies between them.  For couples, I act as a financial neutral.  I also work with individual men and women, some who have been stay at home fathers and mothers who sacrificed the ability to have their own careers and now need to know how they will survive and thrive financially when the divorce is over.  Others are professionals who, as the higher wage earner, need to understand potential support obligations and determine how to preserve retirement and investment earnings.”
  1. Katina Pantazis, PA, founder of KP Law, focuses on assisting clients in preparing their estate plans, which includes: wills, trusts, durable power of attorney documents, and health care documents, while also assisting clients with administering an estate or trust after a death (probate and/or trust administration), as well as helping clients with long term care needs when one needs to apply for government assistance (long term care Medicaid and/or VA Aid and Attendance). KP Law has remained open but with a new set of policies. “We have implemented new policies and procedures to protect our clients and our staff.  All appointments are currently being held over the telephone or video conferencing.  If a client needs to sign documents, we offer clients the option of signing the documents on their own with step by step instructions, or in the alternative, if they’d like to have a face to face signing with our attorney we offer outside signings, we call these our “Curbside” signings.” Despite not being able to be face to face with their clients, Pantazis and staff are doing all they can to be there for their clients. “Our client interactions are mainly via telephone and videoconferencing.  We would, of course, prefer a face to face, closed-door meeting.  But at this time, we do not want to risk our client’s health or our staff’s health, in a closed environment.”

In just a matter of weeks, the state of globalization and business has been altered drastically for everyone. These are unprecedented times that 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 greatest business owners, community leaders, and its elects for guidance and voice on what lies ahead. In the heat of a crisis, one thing is for certain – 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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