Living in a COVID-19 world has forced many businesses, activities and life events to come to a standstill. Even as states were beginning to close in early Spring, there were numerous industries that were labeled “essential” to operate and remained open.
Differing rules has led to quite a bit of confusion regarding what is considered an essential business. This includes many wondering whether law firms are considered essential.
In an interview with Enjuris, Arizona workers’ compensation attorney Bob Wisniewski set the record straight on the effects of the coronavirus shutdowns on law firms and the many injured workers who are seeking legal counsel during this turbulent time.
When Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, began limiting businesses in March, he also released a list of essential services. In the listing, professional services, of which law firms are included, were exempt from closing.
Although law firms were permitted to stay open, they were subject to certain safety measures, including:
- Wearing a mask
- No handshaking
- Practice social distancing
- Frequent sanitizing of commonly used surfaces
- Frequent handwashing
- Other appropriate precautions
Additionally, attorneys were encouraged to allow their staff (and themselves) to telework as much as possible, utilizing video conferencing when available.
Bob Wisniewski has worked hard to ensure his firm remains in compliance with all the required COVID-19 safety measures. Our office is physically closed to the public, but we’re still accepting mail at the office via lockbox, as well as electronic mail, Dropbox documents and teleconferencing.
As for protecting our staff, we have made it possible for them to either work from home with their computer and we have set up a staggered schedule to be in the office. This way, they can ensure that all essential operations and representation of the clients are running smoothly.
Given that we work with workers’ compensation cases, our clients need to receive their compensation checks in a timely fashion; therefore, we ensure that our office manager and lawyers read mail, route important documents, as well as write and mail client checks.
As Bob told Enjuris:
“We’ve found that by literally having the front door shut, there are no interruptions and we are just as (if not more) efficient in serving our clients. We use direct mail or direct deposit, so clients’ checks are expedited to them. We mail all our clients’ checks that don’t have direct deposit, but have a deposit slip preprinted on file with us. We’ve told clients that there will be a delay due to the closure of the Industrial Commission of Arizona building for all initial hearings.”
Since May 2020, all cases that are currently in litigation are now being done via video conference via Google.
If you’re in need of assistance for a workers’ compensation claim during this time, don’t worry: your calls will still be answered. Our main phone line has remained open and your calls will be routed to the extension of the attorney who is handling your file, or who will interview prospective clients.
Moreover, any prospective client who needs counsel will be interviewed by Mr. Wisniewski or Mr. Grajeda, both Arizona workers’ compensation certified specialists. You can also text, fax and email (in English and in Spanish) 24/7—we are here for you.