Earlier this month, just a week before lawyers across the country were set to converge on San Diego for a white-collar defense conference, the American Bar Association canceled the annual gathering amid the growing alarm of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

For U.S. law firms, the move was an early taste of how the highly contagious virus would reshape everyday life in the legal profession and beyond—forcing office closures, mass layoffs across industries and government commands to avoid close encounters. But with the gravity of the global health emergency still not yet crystallized, the Washington law firm KaiserDillon quickly arranged a happy hour for one of the evenings white-collar lawyers had expected to spend networking in Southern California.

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