Attorneys Working From Home and Legal Changes in the Age of COVID-19

Man 1: 1-800-LAW-1010, Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, our boy. What’s up, man? How you doing?

Man 2: Hey, Paul. How’s it going?

Man 1: There’s probably a good bit.

Paul: How much time you got, right? Yeah, so it’s been an unusual time. Haven’t talked to you guys in a while, but things are…seem somewhat getting back on track.

Man 2: What are you guys doing over at the office?

Paul: Yeah, we’re just talking a lot on the phone. We are…you know, everybody’s home, everybody’s connected. You know, it’s super quiet. So, we are ready to work and we’re working. And yesterday was the first full day of that, so you can imagine it had its peaks and valleys. But, right now, we are on track and working.

Man 2: So, we get to read a lot of, like, analytics and how it’s all unfolding socially and work-related. If you get distracted at home, it takes you 28 minutes on average to get back on track. As a boss, you can’t like hearing that, Paul.

Man 1: Terrible.

Paul: No.

Man 1: It’s terrible.

Paul: No, but we get it, you know, we get it. People are home. They got their kids, they got dogs, they got a refrigerator. You know, and they are working, [crosstalk 00:01:09].

Man 2: Oh, no doubt about it. I just thought that was an interesting stat.

Man 1: I hope after eight, nine years of school, you know, you’re doing what you got to do. You know, you’re probably on board, the folks that are working at home, but if you do get some free time, do lawyers binge watch TV?

Paul: We only binge…Netflix, you know, sure. We got a little note around that there’s some… I’ve never watched “Madam Secretary,” right, but in the last two weeks I’ve caught up. I’m almost caught up. So, yes, we do.

Man 1: Yeah, Paul, I stopped… Paul, I watched episode one on the network version years ago and I said goodbye because I didn’t have the patience, but now it’s back and I’m right there with you, bro.

Paul: That’s awesome. Awesome, all right.

Man 2: Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. What’s the difference or when does a quarantine become martial law? There’s a portion of America that’s, you know, kind of banging that drum and doesn’t want to give the government too much power.

Paul: Yeah, we got the shelter in place states, and then we’ve got really here in New York, you know, we’ve got…you know, we know that the governor has allowed us to do certain things. We’re not shuttered in place. We know that there are non-criminal penalties if you violate it, they’ll shut down your business and force you to close, but they’re not arresting people who are doing it.

Other states, as close as New Jersey, they say, “Hey, you get caught doing this,” you’re holding a big party, you know, you’re gonna be charged with, basically, a disorderly conduct. They have a different charge for it. So, everyone’s treating it a little bit differently. And I think right now the governor has said, “You know, we’re in the maximum…” You know, kind of a day of the “Star Wars” sort of approach. We’re at this, sort of, you know, maximum warp speed of where we’re gonna be in terms of his decision making. So, we’re hoping from here as the news just kind of just starts giving us some of these rights back [crosstalk 00:03:04].

Man 1: So, that’s a scary sound, the martial law, and we’ve had these…you know, the influx of these big equipment for a lot of these police departments, but I wonder if we had a little mini invisible ISIS running around America infecting us and a lot of the people would die, we’d probably bring out martial law then, wouldn’t we?

Paul: Sure, you know, they do talk about, you know, similar to the mass shootings, right? If there was gonna be a real shutdown, we had an invasion, you know, martial law would be in place. You go out in the street, you drive around, you would be thrown in the back of a paddy wagon, 1950s, and brought somewhere isolated, so…

Man 1: It’s to help. It’s to help, and I know that I sound like a patsy here.

Man 2: Well, you don’t want to give up your rights. And who can enact martial law? That’s a governor thing, right?

Paul: Yeah, the governors can do it. The federal government can do it. So, it depends on what, where, you know, again, we have a state. You know, let’s say just New York was in some type of danger and nobody else was, they could do it. You know, rioting, things like that, or if it’s more of a subtle thing.

Man 2: They could call my militia. We’d come and help out New York State.

Man 1: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, no question about that.

Paul: The minutemen.

Man 1: You’re on board.

Man 2: One last question. What is the judicial system doing with low-level offenders right now? Anything?

Paul: Well, you know, there’s still a court. There’s…

Man 1: You got plans?

Man 2: I don’t have any plans.

Man 1: Okay. Okay.

Paul: It’s probably a good time to do something. Yeah, there’s just…it’s a little more lax than it would have been three months ago. Yeah, you know, the criminal courts are sort of alive and well, but we saw this whole thing with the bail reform where they were, kind of, you know, getting people in, kind of letting them go to come back for debatable reasons. So, yes, it is a little more lax. There is a lot less… [inaudible 00:04:44] probably a lot less people using the system because people are just not interacting with one another. You know, people are abiding by this. But, no, you violate a law, there’s still a criminal court that will arraign you and indict you and ultimately put you in prison.

Man 2: Silver lining of gun violence down in Chicago.

Man 1: That’s good news, right?

Man 2: No, seriously. Silver lining. So, that and pollution.

Man 1: Did you fill out your census yet, Paul? We got to get going, but I just wanted to make sure I remind you.

Paul: You know, because I have a little bit of free time, so I actually did it the day it came in, which is so atypical for me, yeah.

Man 1: Good for you.

Paul: It took like nine minutes. Yeah.

Man 2: Thanks for everything you’re doing Paul, and good luck out there.

Paul: Stay safe. All right, guys.

Man 1: 1-800-LAW-1010, Paul Harding, Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.