Open for Business: Legal services in the time of coronavirus
Written by Luke Musto, Associate
The world has been disrupted in ways that would have been unimaginable even a number of weeks ago, with fundamental changes to the Australian way of life, the economy, and how we do business.
All businesses have had to make very quick changes to how they exist in order to stay afloat, and eliminate face-to-face contact as much as possible. As a sense of normalcy with the virus and how we are dealing with it has now taken place, it will be interesting to see just how many of these changes become permanent once the pandemic itself eventually passes.
Law firms and the law in general have been just as deeply affected as any other business. While many firms, ours included, were able to transition to remote-work quickly and painlessly, we have certainly seen changes to how we provide legal advice and the type of assistance that our clients are looking for.
In today’s post, we will consider some of the ways the virus has impacted the type of advice and assistance that law firms provide.
Employment law advice
The Fair Work Act imposes a number of onerous standards on employers. We have already been providing employment law advice to a number of businesses dealing with the impact of coronavirus. Employment law advice and assistance does not have to be expensive, but procuring it can mean avoiding costly claims and expenses further down the track. For this reason, we strongly advise all businesses to consult their lawyer before taking any action in regards to their employees to make sure they are meeting their legal obligations.
On the other hand, employees themselves should also speak with their lawyer if they are unsure of their own entitlements.
Commercial and corporate advice
While we continue to help some of our clients proceed with deals and transactions, we have also seen an increase in enquiries relating to how businesses can best manage risks and protect their assets. This includes advice on contracts and performance in circumstances where one of the parties may be having difficulty completing due to coronavirus.
We are able to have important documents signed without having to meet face to face by using electronic signature software that allows for signing online. This option is available for execution of documents including costs agreements, contracts and others.
These confronting times have, unfortunately, reminded us all of how quickly circumstances can change and of our own mortality. Sadly, many Australians do not have a will, or their will may be out of date (due to separation, having children, etc), which ultimately leaves what will happen to their estate when they pass away up to others.
This being said, having a well-drafted will is one of the most important things for any person to have and definitely don’t have to be expensive from the right lawyer. The majority of wills are documents that are very cost-effective and quick to produce.
In addition, other related documents such as powers of attorneys should also be considered as appropriate.
Going to Court
The courts themselves have now closed for the majority of face-to-face appearances, with only a very small number of essential court dates proceeding in this way, with strict on-site precautions enforcing social distancing and limiting contact. Instead, court dates and hearings have now made the transition to remote teleconferencing and other measures allowing for matters to be heard remotely.
If you have a court date scheduled in the coming weeks, the court will be in contact with you or your lawyer regarding alternative arrangements, with only a very limited number of face-to-face services and proceedings continuing.
While many aspects of Australian society have ground to a halt, the law and access to legal services continues. Harris Gomez Group has already moved to respond to the challenges of this pandemic, and is ready to continue serving the community, whether that be by answering employment law enquiries, helping a business get its affairs in order or updating a will. If you need advice, get in touch with our experienced team today.
Harris Gomez Group is an Australian law firm with 25 years experience based in Sydney, with sister offices in Santiago and Bogotá. We specialise in business and corporations law, technology law, and cross-border issues. We assist small to medium-sized Australian businesses with a variety of issues, including employment law, property law issues (such as rental contracts) and contract disputes.
To better understand how we can support your management team, please contact Harris Gomez at email@example.com
Our Sydney office is located at Level 7, 92 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.