Memorandum: We Are Still Open for Business
I came back from Antarctica on March 12, 2020, and despite plans to unpack over the weekend and hit the decks running the next Monday, I went to the office on March 13th to make plans in response to the Covid-19 crisis. I had learned about the extent of Covid-19 as I travelled from the safety and remoteness of Antarctica through two South American countries and Florida to get home. Given the circumstances and the fact that some of my clients and family are among the most vulnerable to the virus, I decided that we at Lannik Law needed to adjust our practice to meet client needs, and ensure their safety. The safety of office staff during the Covid-19 Pandemic was also top of mind. Here are some of the actions we took:
- We immediately closed the office to all but essential personnel, and part time for them, and determined that my colleague Bill Brisk and I would work virtually to serve our clients. Since we moved to the Clio system for tracking clients and cases and recording all documents in that system, we already have the technology to work virtually. Phones are another matter. Prior to Baker’s request that all non-essential persons stay home, our Legal Assistant and a paralegal were in the office for necessary business two days for the weeks following March 13th. Per Governor Baker’s orders, they have since become virtual. But once we get an “all clear,” my staff will return to the office. Hopefully they will return for part-time work after April 7, 2020.
- As soon as we offered virtual services to clients whose appointments were scheduled in March the majority of those contacted chose to take advantage of telephone and video conferencing. Others postponed their office meetings until April. These services apply to all of our estate planning work, Medicaid plans and applications and work with our Probates. The court is closed until April 7, 2020.
Here is some information for you to have at your fingertips.
- Assuming April is “safe,” we plan to have document signing scheduled on an individual basis from April 7th If this does not work, I have other methods of helping clients have their documents signed.
- “Virtual” Legal Services.” Lannik Law continues to offer “virtual legal services.” For now we have “skype” and “face time” for meetings which work without complication. A camera has been purchased for Susana’s laptop, and she expects to be able to utilize it on its arrival on or about March 26, 2020. There are issues with the Zoom program, and we may or may not chose to use it. We are able manage estate planning, our elder law work, including planning and MassHealth applications, and filing necessary documents at the registries of deeds. Our banking is on-line, effective today, so that we may accept electronic transfers for our fees; or transfer funds back to clients that way as well.
- Our phones remain set up so that Susana receives every message left, on line. Please feel free to leave a message. Only Susana or authorized personnel will view and answer phone calls. Due to the fact that Susana is reaching out to clients from her cell phone, or an at home 508 number, clients may not see her name on the phone. The cell phone often says calls from Saugus which she has tried (unsuccessfully) to change for years!
- Real estate conveyancers and Mass NAELA have proposed Executive Orders and legislation respectively (House Bill, “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2020. We hope that these initiatives will change the Commonwealth Requirement that requires in-person notarization; to allow for documents such as Wills and Trusts be witnessed through electronic video conferencing in real time. This would allow for our clients to sign in their own home without risking their health or family health during this epidemic.
- There are many scams out there waiting to entrap the unwary and play on fears of this disease that a friend of mine calls “A Demon.” If you receive a cure-all offer and it’s too good to be true, then, it is likely not true. Use common sense, and if you have doubts do not sign anything or give any information to any telemarketer. Keep your doors closed. Do not let people in who claim to be able to help cure this virus. There are none.
I learned many lessons during my trip. The Polar explorer E.H. Shackleton overcame remarkable odds to save his crew when his ship the Endurance was caught in and crushed by ice. I plan to quote him from time to time, so for now besides service first, the motto of Lannik Law will be “Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.” Lannik Law is here to serve you during these difficult times.
Thank you for understanding and patience during these difficult times. Lannik Law hopes to continue to provide you with excellent and timely service.
William J Brisk