The New Jersey State Bar Association has created a sweeping task force to examine issues facing the legal community as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The NJSBA Pandemic Task Force brings together thought leaders from across the profession to study questions including how to safely reopen law firms; adjust courthouse operations; resume jury trials; examine the impact of the pandemic on substantive areas of law; and how access to justice has been affected.
The Task Force will consult with a cross section of attorneys around the state, the Judiciary, elected officials, members of law enforcement, county and specialty bar associations, and law firm leaders. It will make recommendations and provide guidance to the state’s lawyers.
NJSBA President Kimberly A. Yonta said that she created the Task Force in recognition of the fact that the pandemic has and will continue to have a profound effect on society and the law. The NJSBA is committed to providing its members and the legal community the practical resources it needs to adapt to the new reality.
“Now, more than ever, what lawyers do is essential to New Jersey and society. We are the foot soldiers for justice, the rule of law and the Constitution. The New Jersey State Bar Association has an important role to play in offering leadership and guidance in the path forward. The Association, with the vast experience of its diverse members, has an obligation and responsibility to provide expertise and guidance to the legal community and public as we navigate the road ahead,” Yonta said.
Former NJSBA President Thomas H. Prol is chair of the Task Force, which is comprised of five committees. The committees are:
Courthouse Logistics and Operations, which will provide leadership and guidance about the safety concerns for lawyers and the public regarding the reopening of courthouses across the state, from municipal courts, to Superior Courts in all 19 vicinages, to the state’s federal courthouses. NJSBA President-Elect Domenick Carmagnola is chair of the committee.
Practice of Law, which will provide leadership on the emerging challenges and opportunities confronting the legal profession and the justice system arising from the COVID-19 pandemic in substantive practice areas. NJSBA First Vice President Jeralyn Lawrence and Second Vice President Timothy McGoughran will serve as chairs of the committee.
Resuming Jury Trials, which will create recommendations for the New Jersey Supreme Court’s consideration for the safe, effective, and Constitutional resumption of civil and criminal jury trials. NJSBA Treasurer William Mergner Jr. is chair of the committee.
Law Firm Opening and Operations, which will provide recommendations and guidance for opening and maintaining safe and healthy law office environments for lawyers, employees, and clients. NJSBA Secretary Christine Amalfe is chair of the committee.
Access to Justice, which will actively promote the NJSBA pro bono platform nj.freelegalanswers.org, so members of the public can access lawyers for their initial legal questions related to COVID-19. It will also identify the legal needs of those less advantaged and develop strategies to assist them. NJSBA Immediate Past President Evelyn Padin is chair of the committee.
Since the first days of the pandemic, the NJSBA has collected information and resources for the legal profession at njsba.com, created a free webinar series with practice-specific guidance and practical tips, and advocated with elected officials for law changes to address the challenges the pandemic has presented to lawyers and their clients.