Lawyer-Client Communication during Covid-19
Verbatim transcript of an LSO FAQ:
How can lawyers and paralegals communicate effectively with clients while using social distancing to reduce health risks in their practices?
In the context of COVID-19, public health best practices include social distancing. Lawyers and paralegals should consider conducting routine meetings with clients by phone or using video-conferencing options such as Zoom, Skype, Facetime and other platforms. It is also important for lawyers and paralegals to be aware of the types of engagements with clients that in typical circumstances would require an in-person meeting and that in the context of COVID-19 require a heightened risk-based approach if an in-person meeting is not going to be conducted.
Lawyers and paralegals should be mindful of their obligations to communicate effectively with clients in selecting an alternative means of communication:
— Commentary [8.1] to Rule 3.1-2 of the Rules provides that what is effective communication with the client will vary depending on the nature of the retainer, the needs and sophistication of the client, and the need for the client to make fully informed decisions and provide instructions.
— Rule 3.01(4)(e) and (f) of the Paralegal Rules defines competence as including communicating with the client at all relevant stages of a matter in a timely and effective manner, and answering reasonable client requests in a timely and effective manner.
— Guidelines 10, 10.1, and 10.3 of the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines state that a paralegal can provide more effective client service by keeping the client informed regarding his or her matter, and being clear about what the client expects, both at the beginning of the retainer and throughout the retainer.
In the context of COVID-19, if lawyers and paralegals choose to change their means of client communication, they should consider notifying clients about the alternative means of communication that they intend to use as soon as practicable. For more information about best practices in using alternative means of communication, please see the questions and answers below.
Last updated: March 16