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The COVID-19 pandemic continues its relentless reshaping of our world. Individual activities and almost every imaginable sort of human interaction have already been rethought and reformed, and we are only beginning to see the ramifications in our daily lives. In the business of law, changes are affecting every aspect of practice. Law firms are being challenged on every front. Even the most fundamental elements of a firm’s character—its size, location, public image, use of human, technological and real estate resources, legal specialties, business model, payroll, and strategic alliances—are being reviewed and reconsidered. From my desk, another change is clear.

Since early in the pandemic, lawyers and law firms have been on the move or planning changes, voluntarily and otherwise. Everywhere are symptoms of downsizing, cost-cutting, fence-jumping, wing-spreading and risk-taking. Across the state, lawyers have been going solo or joining forces or otherwise reorganizing. They call with questions about the RPCs and Rules of Court and the bookkeeping requirements of setting up shop. They want to know about giving notice to their firm and to the firm’s clients, about malpractice insurance tails, confidentiality, fee sharing, installing spyware, accessing client lists, and soliciting staff. Managing attorneys have questions about recently departed (or soon-to-be departed) associates, partners or staff. Departing attorneys want to know the rules of disengagement and the boundaries.

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