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The Light at the End of the Tunnel? Part 2: NYSBA Releases Guide for Reopening Law Firms

May 29, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">The <a href="">recommendations</a> from The New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) to bring lawyers and staff back to their offices are here, and with no surprise to anyone, they’re telling lawyers and staff to keep their masks on and keep their office door closed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Under Governor Cuomo’s re-opening plan (the “New York Forward Reopening Plan”), non-essential businesses will be permitted to re-open in each of the State’s 10 regions in a phased approach, with at least two weeks in between each phase. Each region that meets the public health requirements will re-open their businesses on a staggered timeline in four phases. Every business is required to develop a written safety plan and comply with industry-specific guidelines issued by New York State.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Under the New York Forward Reopening Plan, a region may start re-opening its Phase One industries once it meets the State’s seven health and safety metrics. On May 14, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued the first wave of industry-specific guidance for those industries included in Phase One of the State’s re-opening plans (Construction, Agriculture, Retail, Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade).</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Law firms fall under Phase Two of Governor Cuomo’s re-opening plan, which can begin to re-open as early as May 29th in the regions of New York that have been deemed safe to open. Although new industry-specific guidance for Phase Two businesses has yet to be issued by New York State, businesses have started to prepare guidelines and templates to initiate getting back to work and living the “new normal.” The New York State Bar Association released an initial model re-opening plan to help guide law firms.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">As expected, the guidelines focus on social distancing, protective equipment, and hygiene. NYSBA’s guidelines suggest law firms create procedures that include everything from social distancing and face coverings, to staggered workday hours, and testing plans for employees. The NYSBA’s guidelines pretty much mirror the mandatory guidelines issued by New York State for Phase One industries.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">As law firms and government offices slowly start the process of re-opening, New York State Courts are further expanding their virtual operations, allowing new lawsuits, motions, and applications to be filed electronically without anyone having to step inside a courthouse. How much will that impact a firm’s decision to re-open? Only time will tell but, New York State and the NYSBA are full steam ahead as they try to get the economy back on its feet and foster a safe return to life outside of quarantine.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Irving Fayman for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.</p>


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