Lawyers Making a Difference During COVID-19
Lawyers have long made a difference in the world. But in the era of coronavirus, that impact is even more significant. Lawyers and the firms they represent are in a unique position to offer advice, direction, and connections to people who are struggling – and there are a lot of people struggling right now.
In response to COVID-19, law firms across the country have lined up to help those who have been most heavily affected. Today, we want to spotlight lawyers and firms going above and beyond to make a difference as the country and the economy recover from the coronavirus.
Atikiva Cohen’s Pro Bono Offer
Since 2015, Atikiva Cohen has been working as a partner at Kamerman, Uncyk, Soniker & Klein, a law firm specializing in commercial litigation. He works in midtown Manhattan, one of the hardest hit coronavirus locations. Cohen offered his services pro bono to anyone affected by the pandemic via Twitter, and his offer quickly went viral. Cohen says he was inspired by third-year UNC Law student Alyssa Leader’s movement on Twitter. Cohen also connected with several fellow attorneys to provide support if a request falls outside Cohen’s areas of expertise.
Law Student Offers Inspiration
University of North Carolina Law student Alyssa Leader created a Twitter campaign, “Law Student COVID-19 Pro Bono Support Project” which inspired more than 2,500 law students to sign up to provide free support for attorneys working on COVID-19 related cases. Leader sends out a link where law students can sign up for projects that interest them. Examples of projects law students may assist with include research regarding paid leave policies; drafting of bail motions; and supporting efforts to seek release from immigration custody.
Ropes & Gray Puts the Firm to Work
Moved by all of the people in need, nearly 250 attorneys at the Boston firm Ropes & Gray have embraced director Roz Garbose Nasdor’s challenge to complete 40 hours of pro bono work. This is a 100% increase from the firm’s annual goal of 20 hours of pro bono work per attorney before the outbreak.
“People everywhere are in need, so we’re not going to stop doing what we’re already doing. But we’re asking people to step it up even more if they have the capacity,” says Nasdor in an interview for Law.com.
Additionally, Ropes & Gray and its longstanding pro bono partners Lawyers for Civil Rights and Lawyers Clearinghouse have launched the COVID Relief Coalition to provide vulnerable small businesses and mission-driven organizations with free legal support.
AbacusNext Sponsors Front-Line Staff and First Responders
Leading legal and accounting software provider AbacusNext has also stepped up to show support. The organization partnered with several firms to provide free software and legal services to front-line medical staff and first responders. Together, they are rolling out initiatives to help health care workers prepare legal documents entirely online.
AbacusNext’s HotDocs Advance document automation software has also rolled out an update to provide services like wills, living wills, estate plans and health care power of attorney (POA) documents to be completed without the need to meet with an attorney in person. This initiative is an expansion of the Wills for Heroes program, which provides free legal services to firefighters, police, medical workers and other first responders.
Moving Forward Together
These firms, like many others, share one understanding in common: we are all in this together. Firms that dedicate time, energy, and resources to their communities right now are having a positive impact at both a local and global scale. And that’s an investment that pays off now in doing the right thing, and will pay off in the future by building goodwill and expanding trust relationships with your community.