COVID-19: Another R&B Update
We’re still here! When I updated you all on March 22, I never expected for us to be “at home” 131 days later. Home we are, though, and way behind on our communications.
Leigh and I remain in our homes, almost exclusively. Privilege abounds, as we manage to live our lives and serve our clients with a minimum of inconvenience. Our staff manages the office and Matthew Scarber works in the office, mostly. We limit our contacts with clients and others, have masks and gloves at the ready, and a fancy-dancy sanitizer dispenser at 382 S. Convent Ave.
Our privilege aside, the pandemic has affected the delivery of legal services greatly. Not so much when it comes to estate planning and counseling. Much more so when disputes arise, and when we deal with protective proceedings aka guardianships and conservatorships.
The courthouse offers normal hours, but live, in-person appearances happen rarely. Jury trials happen not at all now, for our courtrooms lack any meaningful means for social distancing. When jury trials return (at the soonest, months from now), criminal cases come first.
Court trials – cases in which the judge decides both the facts and the law – happen infrequently, although our presiding Probate Judge will hear cases. I have not tried a case in many months, but I expect to be back in court on September 15 for a one-day trial.
Protective proceedings present challenges, too. Often, they involve older individuals who cannot or will not appear in person. The court will hear disputes by telephone, but in difficult cases the phone works poorly as a means for having many people communicate with one another.
COVID-19 puts social cues front and center. We appreciated the value of seeing someone in person before the pandemic, but it has elevated the benefits in our minds. An email offers more non-evident information than does a text message. The phone offers even more, and a Zoom connection gets better still. But, in the situations we often encounter – when words come easy but facial expressions, breathing patterns, body language, etc. provide the whole story – the forum limits us a bit. However, paraphrasing former DoD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, you use the tools you have, not the ones you might want … .
I wish I had more news to report. Leigh and I – regulars at our neighborhood grill – have not set foot in a bar or restaurant for months. Our cooking skills improve by the week: hers more than mine! I still bake bread, but am a lazy baker, unlike our friend Fleming, who seems like he’s ready for Life After Lawyering as a bread baker. And I walk. Indoors. 20K+ steps a day, mostly in spurts every hour, on the hour, with long early and late walks to get to the expected number.
Be well and kind and stay safe. I expect that we’ve got a long slog ahead of us! I wish I believed the beginning of the end was upon us. Sadly, though, I doubt that, and doubt as well that we have approached the end of the beginning.
Rubin & Bernstein PLLC and Southern Arizona Fiduciary Services LLC