How Associates Are Staying Visible and Productive during COVID-19

Ian A. McLin, Kevin M. Levy, Douglas A. Sampson, Lauren F. Schoeberl, and Paige V. Schroeder
It has never been more critical for junior attorneys to find ways to stay visible than while working from home during this pandemic.

It has never been more critical for junior attorneys to find ways to stay visible than while working from home during this pandemic.

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The initial outbreaks of the coronavirus across the United States invited a patchwork of governmental responses consisting of, among other things, disaster declarations, stay-at-home orders, and business closures. Some of these orders were issued at the state level, while others were limited to specific regions, counties, or municipalities. 

After just a few weeks, it became clear that following the torrent of COVID-19 orders, proclamations, regulations, ordinances, new statutes, and guidelines was going to be a nearly full-time job. Many businesses and law firms organized teams to keep apprised of new developments affecting their work and clients’ businesses. Our firm, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, was no different. Our multidisciplinary COVID-19 Task Force offered advice to clients and attorneys on navigating the myriad legal issues facing their industries.

The bulk of restrictions and business guidance was not being issued or enacted by the federal government, but rather by the states. Consequently, to best serve our clients, our firm formed a State Coronavirus Orders Response Team. The team closely tracks state and local orders from governors, state departments of health and other government agencies, county health commissions, and mayors. We also analyze proposed and enacted state legislation and follow important judicial developments (such as challenges to COVID-related legislation and executive orders).

We are associates from five separate jurisdictions within our firm’s footprint, who joined the COVID-19 response efforts. Behind the scenes, the team’s genesis brought a unique opportunity for associates to strengthen relationships within our firm and across various practice areas. We have spent hundreds of hours cataloging every order from our assigned jurisdictions, analyzing and applying the multitudes of orders from governors’ offices, and sharing our insights and working intimately with attorneys throughout our firm to service clients with unprecedented legal needs. This considerable time and effort have allowed us to become subject matter authorities on COVID-19-related laws, and we have become go-to resources for COVID-19 questions from our colleagues.

Out of adversity comes opportunity. It has never been more critical for junior attorneys to find ways to stay visible than while working from home during this pandemic. COVID-19 has given young attorneys a unique ability to study and practice in an innovative, discrete, and relevant area of the law. Some examples include force majeure clauses, the enforceability of remote execution of documents, the effect on mergers and acquisitions, and employer-employee safety. The pandemic can provide enterprising junior associates with the opportunity for internal networking with partners and supervisors, external client development, and remaining visible and relevant within your organization.

Despite the general uncertainty and hardships in a COVID-19 world, we have remained productive and continue to provide value to our partners and clients during these unprecedented times. As integral members of our firm’s COVID-19 Task Force and State Coronavirus Orders Response Team, we have had many opportunities to work with one another, attorneys, paralegals, and staff outside our home offices and practice areas. We helped numerous clients to address the plethora of legal issues implicated by state-specific guidance.

As associates, our membership in the firm’s team has allowed us to directly interact with our firm’s leaders on important issues facing our own office reopening plans. We are associates, but we have taken ownership in our firm and have seized the opportunities to develop our own internal and external brands. Although we continue to maintain busy practices in our respective fields, we’ve all taken this chance to add COVID-19 compliance law as a new practice field—we’re all COVID-19 lawyers now.

And someday, long after the masks come off, we hope to look back on this strange time in our nascent legal careers and fully appreciate how this experience fashioned us into better citizens, attorneys, and colleagues.

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Ian A. McLin is a complex litigation and insurance associate in Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP’s Washington, DC, office.

Kevin M. Levy is a real estate associate in  Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP’s Philadelphia office.

Douglas A. Sampson is a commercial and real estate litigation associate in Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP’s Baltimore office.

Lauren F. Schoeberl is a commercial and employment litigation associate in Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP’s Minneapolis office.

Paige V. Schroeder is an employment and complex litigation associate in Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP’s Boston office.