Posted by: Ray Brescia | September 9, 2020

Legal Ethics in the Pandemic

Lawyers and their clients across the globe are grappling with legal and ethical issues as the COVID-19 pandemic rages, from dealing with increased need for services and the fact that much work must be done remotely while preserving client confidences and protecting against cyber-security threats, to navigating uncharted legal waters.  But lawyers are often faced with crisis situations. In fact, clients often turn to lawyers precisely because those clients are facing a crisis.  At the same time, not every client crisis is a crisis for the lawyer, who may train to and have the experience necessary to handle the type of crisis the client faces.  Nevertheless, sometimes the crisis is so novel and so pervasive that the lawyer not only cannot rely on prior training, experience, and legal precedent to address the crisis but also the lawyer’s ability to practice might itself be hampered by the very crisis afflicting the client.  In Ethics in Pandmics: The Lawyer for the (Crisis) Situation, which is forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, I attempt to address some of the ethical issues surrounding lawyering through a pandemic and other types of crises.  I examine the extent to which the current rules governing the practice of law are or are not adequate to the task of providing guidance—and accountability—to lawyers dealing with such situations and offer recommendations for how we may consider amendments to those rules to better reflect the needs, interests, and obligations of lawyers dealing with crisis situations so that lawyers may serve their clients better and more effectively when faced with such crises.

A current draft of the article is available here.



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