And just like that, everything was different
COVID-19 has run a path of destruction through our society indiscriminately taking life and livelihoods, changing the way we interact with each other, work with each other and possibly the way we will move forward after this is all over.
The first difference I notice is the concern about health. Most of us always said, “How are you doing?” without thinking, as an opening to a conversation, but now we mean it. We mean, “How are you doing? How is your family? Are you all safe and healthy? and Are you standing too close?”
Next, how do we handle physical greetings? Our first thought when someone approaches us is no longer, “Hello!” it’s “Don’t come too close!” Shaking hands? Do we even do this anymore, or should we rub elbows or go for a jaunty tip of the hat? I am a fan of tipping the hat or bowing… a good regal bow sends a nice message.
ur social interactions overall have changed dramatically. In the space of a month and a half we went from in-person meet and greets to meeting in virtual worlds (Am I my teenage kid? Is this just a crash course in technology for those of us that refuse to come up to speed?) Instead of our interactions being defined by… actual physical interactions, we are now focused on social distancing- a phrase we never heard of prior to the pandemic, but which is now seared into our national vocabulary. The idea of moving forward, of what happens next, is one that centers on questions like whether we will continue standing six feet apart? Will it ever be safe to touch a countertop again? How about touching my face? Side note: I honestly did not realize that I touched my face this much until I was told not to – it is as if everything that my mother told me would come true is coming true (first it was the kids being mini versions of myself, and now this! I am now just waiting for my face to get stuck in this position of distress – thanks Mom).
Now and more importantly (ok, maybe not more importantly in the grand scheme, but you get the point), how has this shaped the practice of law? As with any “new normal” this has been an abnormal experience. The office as we know it might not be the office as we need it anymore. I have been surprised how quickly many of my clients have taken to online meetings–perhaps more quickly than me. While I enjoy the in person experience and believe my presence is quite amazing, my clients seem to be getting along just fine without me, although trust signings are a bit awkward (”Quite entertaining to watch,” said my spectating spouse).
Of course, not everything can be done virtually– there are many out there that need to meet in person and cannot practice remotely, such as attorneys with clients whose very freedoms depend on their ability to meet with their clients and to advocate by their side. The courts have been quick to adapt to the remote technologies as well. I’ve been impressed with the level of concern for each individual and the concern to keep this essential service moving.
Thank you to all who attended the virtual town halls. A special thank you for putting those on and to Judge Baskin and to all of the judges that participated. Thank you to everyone who sent ideas. I appreciate all of the input and passed it all along.
I am cheering for all of us and I hope you are too.
I hope that you and your families are well, in good health and that you continue to give me my space–at least six feet.