OPEN AND SHUT, RINSE AND REPEAT - Judges and court administrators across the country are, at this point, pretty well used to the pandemic mucking up plans to resume in-person operations. But that doesn’t mean they’ve settled on a uniform response to new COVID-related complications. As the reportedly less lethal but much more contagious Omicron variant rages across the U.S. and infection rates skyrocket—including among court employees—some courts have abandoned in-person operations entirely, while others have forged ahead largely unabated. With hopes of returning to some sense of normalcy dashed once again, our first Law.com Litigation Trendspotter column of 2022 looks a heck of a lot like our first Litigation Trendspotter column of 2021, demonstrating that the term “post-pandemic” is likely going to mean learning to co-exist with COVID-19 rather than ever truly leaving it in the past. I’m interested to hear what you think: What’s the proper response from courts to the rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant? Let me know at [email protected].
NO NORMAL - OK, let’s check in with law firms. After all, it’s been almost two full years, maybe they’ve had more success coordinating a COVID-19 response than the courts have. Aaaaand… nope. As Law.com’s Dylan Jackson reports, Omicron has forced dozens of law firms to either halt their plans for hybrid work or (again) delay a return to the office. But, like the courts, different firms have different views on how to proceed from here. Some hold the belief, supported by data, that the surge is likely to peak later in January and recede quickly as it did in South Africa. Others, burned too many times by the COVID uncertainty, are opting not to set a date at all. The truth is that, right now, there is no right answer—and maybe acknowledging that is the key to moving forward. “There’s some power in transparency and vulnerability in saying that we don’t know and it’s OK we don’t know. To try to make plans when there is no plan, that’s going to give people anxiety. It’s almost like we can relax in knowing that there is no answer and not trying to pursue and exact answer,” legal wellness consultant Jennie Malloy told Jackson.