In addition to continuing the Level 3 health restrictions already in place, the Chief Justice is seeking legislative authority to (1) extend or suspend timelines currently set by statute or rule, and that apply after the initiation of both criminal and civil cases; and (2) ensure the ability to appear in court by telephone or other remote means in most circumstances. If that authority is granted, a supplemental order will be issued.
With exceptions, proceedings and trials scheduled to begin earlier than June 1, 2020, are postponed, and no trials will be scheduled to begin before June 1, 2020.
With COVID19 news changing daily here are some suggested guidelines for keeping clients informed. This list first appeared on March 17. Modify as needed to comply with Governor Brown’s anticipated Executive Order of March 23 and Chief Justice Walters’s coming update to CJO 20-006.
Keeping Clients Informed Amid COVID19
Post notices on your website.
Keep your outgoing voicemail message up-to-date.
Send an “all client” status email.
Post reduced hours or closures at your office.
Limit or suspend in-person client visits.
Conduct appointments by phone or video conference.
Work at home if you can. If you can’t, follow CDC recommended health practices like washing hands frequently and sanitizing surfaces.
Prioritize client files. Follow-up with clients whose matters are now postponed or those with upcoming court dates.
For specific client outreach, use your phone, not email. Why? Clients will have lots of questions. If you persist with email the likelihood is you’ll be bouncing back and forth for some time addressing all their concerns. You will save time by calling and clients will be reassured when they hear your voice. If calls are running long politely explain you have other clients anxious to hear from you.
Use staff to spread the load. They can be a huge help reaching out to and responding to clients.
Get virtual help if you need it. To avoid being overwhelmed by calls, consider services like Ruby Receptionist who can help you remotely.
If you are worried about potential legal malpractice claims, reach out to the PLF by email.
For ethics questions, see this FAQ. Bar counsel’s office is available by phone or email or you can reach out to private ethics counsel. Keep in mind this is a living document which bar counsel continues to update.
Practice patience and kindness – especially toward yourself