As Massachusetts moves through phases of reopening and Covid-19 spikes across the nation, find resources for workplace rights, requesting leave, succession planning, and closing a practice.
Workplace Rights Helpline & Requesting Leave Guides from WorkLife Law
The Center for WorkLife Law, a research and advocacy organization at UC Hastings College of the Law, has created a helpline for workplace rights and multiple guides for requesting leave due to Covid-19.
HELPLINE for Workplace Rights: As noted on the Helpline website, “The Center for WorkLife Law is offering a free legal helpline for workers nationwide who have questions about their workplace rights related to coronavirus,” which continues:
Helpline callers can connect with attorneys to receive information about how to protect their incomes, health benefits, and jobs while taking care of their families and their health during the COVID-19 crisis. Examples of workers who can receive help:
- Working parents and other caregivers who need time off work to care for children, elderly, or disabled family members due to school or care closures
- Pregnant employees seeking job changes or leave to avoid COVID-19 exposure
- Employees navigating income replacement and paid leave options when they are off work under a quarantine/isolation order
- Parents or other caregivers fired, furloughed, or otherwise penalized because of their COVID-19-related caregiving needs
Calls and emails to the helpline are confidential to the extent permissible by law.
GUIDES for Requesting Leave: The Center for WorkLife Law also offers free guides for requesting leave for yourself or to care for others. The guides available here cover:
- Leave to care for children due to school or care closures
- Leave for yourself to seek diagnosis
- Leave for yourself based on advice from healthcare provider
- Leave for yourself because of shelter-in-place or isolation order
- Leave to care for someone else advised stay at home or self-quarantine
- Leave to care for someone else under a shelter-in-place or isolation order
Incapacitation Resources: Succession Planning & Closing a Practice
“Every lawyer with responsibilities to clients needs a plan. The content of the plan will vary depending on the practice situation, ” as noted by Jayne Tyrell in this 2017 article, which includes what a succession plan should cover and shares 4 key steps outlined for exiting a law practice:
- Designation of an Assisting Attorney;
- Preparation of Written Instructions for the Assisting Attorney, family, executor, and staff;
- Discussion of the Advance Exit Plan with the people listed in Step 2; and
- Description of the financial arrangements made with the Assisting Attorney, which may include medical authorizations to determine incapacity to continue to practice, and authorizations to notify others about the closure of the practice or to obtain extensions of time in active litigation matters.
Creating a succession plan can be overwhelming in any circumstances — and the right approach can help. Find more on the following 4 Steps for Lawyers to Develop a Succession Plan here: (1) Identify your goals; (2) Create your timeline; (3) Make a list of resources you’ll need (find our essentials here); and (4) Make a list of any obstacles you expect. You can find more resources in this listing from a July 2020 program from the BBA titled Help! I Need Somebody: Emergency Planning for Lawyers in a Post Covid-19 World (FREE even to nonmembers; you just need to create an account). You can also download presentation slides from LCL | Mass LOMAP’s Susan Letterman White’s segment on Pandemic-Triggered Transitions here.
Finally, there are a handful of key tasks you need to handle if you’re closing a practice. Find more on the following 5-Task Short-List for Closing a Law Practice in Massachusetts here:
- Notify Clients,
- Return Client Files,
- Protect Yourself and Your Family,
- Account for Unearned Fees, and
- Notify the BBO.
The Massachusetts BBO operates an in-house commissioner program, which offers assistance to colleagues of lawyers who have left practice unexpectedly and without succession plans, as well as others needing similar assistance. Find more on the BBO In-House Commissioner Program here.
Free & Confidential Consultations:
Lawyers, law students, and judges in Massachusetts can discuss concerns with a licensed therapist, law practice advisor, or both. Find more on scheduling here.