In this time of concern and disruption over Covid-19, I and my colleagues at Susman Godfrey (SG) are busy taking steps to safeguard our firm family while continuing to be proactive in protecting the interests of our clients and moving matters forward as necessary and appropriate. I hope that you, your colleagues, and your families are well, and I want you to know that we understand that this public health crisis and its related economic effects are challenging for everyone. We are here to help our clients to navigate these challenges. Below I provide basic information about what my colleagues and I are doing now, what you can expect from me going forward, and what clients might do avoid unnecessary loss.
I encourage you to contact me (or any of the other SG lawyers you are working with) if you have specific questions or concerns. It is important that you and we keep the lines of communication open and strong.
What SG is doing
We are open. Our offices—in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle—remain open. Lawyers and staff are not required to come into the offices but may do so if needed. In-person meetings can be arranged if necessary. Phone and video conferences are preferred for real-time interactions to minimize the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The health and safety of our personnel and clients are paramount.
We are accustomed to working remotely (and securely). We have cases all over the U.S. and clients around the world, and as a result our lawyers and staff are pros at getting things done remotely. In addition, our Information Technology department remains online and actively monitoring our secure remote systems, including our virtual private network and secure document-sharing platforms. Our clients’ confidential data and documents are just as secure as they were before this crisis hit.
We are taking precautions. As a precaution, we have instructed lawyers and staff not to come to the office or interact in person with any other firm personnel if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or have been exposed to anyone who has had symptoms. Non-essential travel is discouraged. We will continue to monitor this situation closely.
What you can expect from us
We are pressing ahead. We will continue evaluating potential cases, moving existing cases forward, and filing new ones. Our lawyers and staff have access to robust platforms that enable us to work outside the office and conduct business remotely. These include facilities for communications (email, videoconferencing, text messages, and online collaboration) as well as for factual and legal research, document review and management, and filing and service of new litigation and arbitration matters as well as of pleadings, motions, notices, and briefs in existing ones.
Trial-team calls aren’t canceled. We expect periodic trial-team conferences will generally continue. Each of my cases has a trial team, typically headed by me or another SG partner and including one or more client representatives, and each trial team convenes weekly, generally by teleconference, to review case status and discuss items on the task assignment memo for the case. These trial-team conferences will continue as appropriate to make progress towards favorable resolution of disputes. With the scheduling of trials and hearings in question in the near term, weekly conferences may become less frequent, depending on the circumstances of the particular case.
Some deadlines are being generally extended. Courts and arbitral bodies across the U.S. have cancelled or postponed trials and hearings, and (in some instances) courts have authorized suspension of case deadlines and even statute of limitations periods. Many have also called for or authorized the conduct of proceedings that require multiple participants in real time by videoconference or other means, and these may notably include evidentiary hearings and depositions. We will be actively assessing the impact of and adjusting to these and future decisions, as the legal landscape continues to evolve in response to Covid-19.
I’ll update you periodically. I expect to provide updates periodically as well, including here and via Twitter if you are a subscriber (@contingencyblog). Stay tuned.
Expect a call from me. If you are a client or co-counsel, I am likely to call you in the coming days, if you and I haven’t already spoken recently, for a general check-in and to see whether you have specific questions, concerns, or needs.
Some things you can do
Feel free to contact me. My SG colleagues and I remain available to consult with clients as needed. Do not hesitate to call us when you have a question or concern we can help with.
Stay on top of deadlines. Although schedules, deadlines, and even statute of limitations periods may in some instances have been extended by a particular court or court system, it is imperative that you have accurate information to act on. It is not safe to assume that any schedule, deadline, or limitations period has been suspended or lengthened. If you have any questions regarding timeliness of taking any action, raise them promptly with me or any of the other SG lawyers you are working with.
Be alert for developing situations that could lead to loss. Force majeure provisions and related doctrines will be implicated by many circumstances that will arise from Covid-19-related disruption. Human nature being what it is, there will also be instances of opportunistic conduct. Because loss mitigation is the order of the day, be alert for (and ready to act on) situations that need attention in order to minimize negative outcomes.
Be safe and well. Our health and safety are the most important things, now and always. You don’t need me to remind you to wash your hands for a full 20 seconds, use plenty of soap, and sneeze into your elbow—so I will refrain from mentioning them!
But I do want to say that, during this challenging time, I am particularly mindful of your friendship—and especially grateful for it.
Call, text, or email me any time if I can get or do anything for you.