Looking Out For Each Other

This is one of the most difficult things I have written. I write this in mid-April, knowing that members won’t read it until the beginning of May. As the coronavirus devastates our society, including the legal community, I have no idea where we will be at the time this article is published. My hope is that we will be in a better position than we are today but I admit that I have no way of knowing what the future holds.

My primary concern is for the health and safety of all of our friends, family, and colleagues. I know the lawyers in Hennepin County will comply with whatever the public officials ask us to do. I also know that lawyers are going to be needed in many different capacities as the crisis continues and we eventually begin to recover.

I worry for all the law firms in our community. I am particularly concerned for the smaller law firms and their staffs as this pandemic drags on. How long will firms be able to pay their employees with little or no revenue coming in? I wish I had an answer. I know the leadership of the HCBA will be exploring any and all ideas on how we can help.

I am also concerned about our court system as we move forward. How far behind will the court be on processing criminal cases that have priority? Will the civil calendar take a back seat and have to wait an extended period of time before those cases get back on track? What other essential court processes will need to be delayed? I do have confidence in the leaders of the court system in Hennepin County and know they will do the best they can to get the system restarted when the time is appropriate.

In the last few years we have been spending a lot of time thinking about well-being in the legal community. Now this issue will be more important than ever. If lawyers as a group were particularly susceptible to mental health issues before this crisis, focusing on this issue will only become more important in the near future. I know the stress I feel has increased exponentially as of this date. I assume others feel the same way. We all will need to look out for each other both inside and outside our firms. We need to be aware of the signs that our colleagues are suffering and need help.

I want to close with a word of support to all those in leadership roles at law firms. There is never an easy time to be in a role of leading lawyers and firms. This may be one of the more challenging times. Decisions need to be made, oftentimes quickly with a limited amount of time for consultation. You may not make all perfect decisions, but making decisions is what we have to do. Someone needs to step up and decide crucial issues that affect people’s lives. That is what leaders do. Although everyone may not agree with your decisions, your role is critical for the future of your organizations. Someone has to do it. That someone is you. Knowing so many leaders in this community, I for one am confident that everyone will rise to the challenge. We will get through this. Better days lie ahead.

Jeff Baill

Mr. Baill is the managing partner in the Minneapolis office of Yost & Baill where he practices in the area of Insurance Subrogation. He is the founder and past President of the National Association of Subrogation Professionals.
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