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The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers has published ethical guidance for lawyers during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers published new ethical guidance here, answering questions common among lawyers during the COVID-19 Crisis. For questions not answered in the article, the BBO/OBC Ethics Hotline is still operating Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 2p – 4p: (617) 728-8750. The article provides answers to the following questions:
- I am working remotely at home. What should I do to ensure confidentiality?
- I am working from home because I cannot access my office. I have a computer with limited technological resources. Do I have a duty to continue to work on my cases?
- Should I notify my clients if I become ill with COVID-19? If I am not ill, should I prepare for the possibility of illness and being unable to serve my clients?
- My colleague is a solo-practitioner and died from COVID-19. What resources are available to assist in closing the practice?
- I worked for a law firm, I’ve been laid off, and I have cases and clients assigned to me. My employer expects me to handle these cases but says I won’t get paid for any work I do. What are my ethical duties?
- I am a partner in a firm and the firm has decided to close, with different lawyers going in different direction. What are my ethical duties?
- What are my financial obligations to my employees while my office is closed?
- As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, I was unable to retrieve my files or check my mail before losing access to my office. What should I do?
- I have cases with approaching court-imposed deadlines and cases where the statutes of limitations will soon expire. What should I do since the courts are closed except for emergency matters?
- I have an upcoming deposition scheduled in one of my cases. What should I do?
- I am not an estate planning lawyer but I have a client who wants a simple will done right away because of COVID-19, and I have other clients who are asking for advice on other matters outside of my practice area. I can’t find someone else to handle these matters. What can I do ethically?
- I charge my clients an hourly fee and it seems to be taking longer than usual to get things done while working remotely. Can I bill for the additional time it is taking me to complete the work?
- The partners in my firm are expecting me to bill the same hours as before the COVID-19 crisis hit and it is causing me a great deal of stress. What can I do?
- I’m a lawyer and want to engage in work outside the practice of law. What are my ethical duties?
- I’m dealing with other emergency issues such as domestic violence. The courts are closed, so what can I do?
- I do landlord-tenant work. What are my ethical obligations with the courts being closed?
- I need to confer with my client who is facing criminal charges and in custody. What do I do?
The BBO recently published more on ethical guidance on remote work and dealing with COVID-19 here — which includes our resources on remote work during the COVID-19 crisis.
We’ve centralized all our COVID-19 Resources here, which also includes guidance for coping and mental health, financial relief resources, and more.
Find FAQ from Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers here regarding their operations.
Free & Confidential Consultations:
Lawyers, law students, and judges in Massachusetts can discuss how to work remotely and other law practice management concerns with a law practice advisor, and how to cope and other mental health concerns with a licensed therapist. Find more on scheduling here.