The current COVID-19 crisis has companies and professional firms across the country working hard to find new ways of doing business and to live up to the status of essential services in the new era. Legal firms being included in the list of essential service providers are no exception.
Just because social distancing mandates have been put in place by our governments and health authorities, you may still need a lawyer during this time. In fact, employers especially should consult with a lawyer for a number of reasons during this crisis as they deal with everything from work refusals under the Employment Standards Act to the very real and unfortunate likelihood of mass layoffs. Employees as well, may have questions as to whether their employer is acting within the law on certain matters.
So how has our firm pivoted to balance the safety of our staff and clients while still providing seamless access to justice, along with great customer service to our clients? Here are a few things we have done to prepare for, and are continuing to do, in order to meet the challenges of the current situation.
We are still working, but are no longer providing in-person appointments.
Part of limiting the spread of COVID-19 means limiting human contact as much as possible. Some of our lawyers and staff come into the office occasionally but most of our team continues to work from home.
When we were first notified there might be government-mandated shutdowns as a result of this crisis, we were glad we took steps years ago to ensure that we were disaster prepared and connected to work from any location. More than 10 years ago our firm moved our data servers into a private cloud which allowed our lawyers and staff to have access to emails and electronic data from their laptops or other personal devices from anywhere. Last year we upgraded our telephone system to accommodate seamless operations from multiple locations so we can all be working either in the office or remotely and still be connected as though we were all under the same roof. By further incorporating video conferencing it has brought us even closer to each other and to our clients despite miles of physical separation.
Our firm’s Leave Policy has been in place for many years ensuring that our lawyers and support staff, who must be away from the office due to sickness or other emergency situations, are able to take time off from work without compromising their time-sensitive work assignments and professional obligations while away from the office.
In recent years virtual consultations have become increasingly popular amongst many of our clients. Over the last few years, with the use of new technology, we have perfected this form of service allowing us to smoothly transition our virtual consultations to all of our clients during this COVID-19 period.
To help you determine whether you need a lawyer, we conduct free, no-obligation reviews over the phone by a qualified member of our staff. Initial consultations, at a reduced hourly rate, are available with all of our employment lawyers to assess your case and give you legal advice including your available options. If you have a matter that you think might require the attention of an employment lawyer, please give us a call at 905-477-7011.
Video and Teleconferencing
If you are currently working with one of our lawyers, you will have the option to continue working with them either by telephone or by video conferencing using Zoom or other conferencing services. Video and telephone conferencing is also being used for mediations and other meetings so that your matter can proceed in an expeditious manner.
Expect some delays
Although we are doing everything we can to provide the best possible service to our clients, please understand that COVID-19 precautions will invariably cause delays in all levels of Courts. For example, we were recently informed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that they have suspended their operations. Although we can still initiate court processes by means of alternative methods, some cases are being deferred until the Court can resume its operations. Additionally, although the use of electronic documents is encouraged at this time, in some circumstances we are still required to use delivery by mail, courier or process servers which may further delay the process.
Expect the same professional service
At Minken Employment Lawyers we have always been, and remain committed to providing our clients with expert legal advice and services. Our lawyers and staff are working tirelessly to provide the best level of service utilizing the latest technology. Please remember that your priorities are our priorities and we will do all we can within our power to advocate on your behalf while working within the new limits imposed by the current situation.
If you are in need of an employment lawyer during this time, please contact us or call us at 905-477-7011. We have everything in place that is necessary to provide you with great service from a safe distance! Sign up for our newsletter to receive up to date COVID-19 information, including new legislation and Court decisions impacting your workplace.
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