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Governor Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order issued because of the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly forced the melding of domestic and professional lives, often yielding some surprising results. This is part of an ongoing series. Rattled cats and dueling conversations between kitchen and dining room offices Ayesha Hamilton, a New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) trustee and a business and employment attorney in Princeton, has been riding out the order at her new home office—the kitchen table. That wouldn’t be so bad, except her husband works at the dining room table, and there’s no door between the rooms. “It’s been a comedy of errors. Often we have ...
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A number of programs have been set up by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help small businesses impacted by coronavirus shutdown orders. President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, a federal stimulus package designed to resuscitate the economy by keeping small businesses afloat and keeping employees working. A number of programs are available to help these businesses, including:  -          Paycheck Protection Program: Small businesses with up to 500 workers will be able to apply for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The money must be used toward job retention and certain other expenses. The program is open to small ...
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The following is a message from New Jersey State Bar Foundation President Norberto Garcia: Thank you for supporting the New Jersey State Bar Foundation as we all make the significant life changes that are necessary to deal with the current health crisis facing our country. These are challenging times. Our lives have been disrupted and there is a lot of anxiety. Fortunately, the Bar Foundation is well positioned to weather the coming weeks and months. As a foundation that focuses so much on education, a review of our past shows that as Americans we have faced difficulties such as this, and far worse, throughout our history. We will persevere. We will ...
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We are in unprecedented times. Change is happening at a breathtaking pace. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us all into frightening and uncertain times. As I write this message, I can’t predict what the days ahead will bring us. But this I can say with absolute certainty: The New Jersey State Bar Association will be here no matter what comes. Our mission is to serve and support all of our members and the entire legal community. We have been through hard times before. This Association has weathered two world wars, the Great Depression, the economic challenges of the most recent recession. During previous times of crisis like Sept. 11 and Superstorm Sandy, we ...
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Saying the New Jersey Supreme Court has an unparalleled legacy of adapting to circumstances when critically necessary to promote the fair and compassionate administration of justice, the NJSBA today asked it to issue a comprehensive plan to help attorneys through the coronavirus pandemic.   Attorneys are reeling under the new restrictions imposed by Executive Order 107 and most are working remotely for the first time ever. “This is creating serious challenges to servicing clients consistent with the high standards of professional conduct to which attorneys are rightfully held. Moreover, attorneys are under unprecedented financial and mental stress, ...
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In this unprecedented time, the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and the New Jersey State Bar Association are here for you.  We are offering a series of free webinars and webcasts in response to challenges presented to attorneys by the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees can log into live and ask questions in real time, or watch archived versions at your convenience. You can see a the archive of seminar videos here, and below  are some more upcoming programs. Check back often.  Do you have an idea for a webinar that we should do? Email us at [email protected] SBA Loans and Other Financial Lessons for Law Firms – What You Need ...
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The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) Board of Trustees, the Association’s governing body, presented the 2020–2021 preliminary budget and took action on other matters at its March 17 meeting, which convened by conference call. The trustees approved a preliminary general operating budget for 2020– 2021. The fiscal year starts July 1. The proposed budget reflects roughly $12 million in projected revenue and nearly the equivalent in projected expenses. The plan continues to invest in infrastructure upgrades and producing events, seminars and conventions that keep members up-to-date and provide benefit to their practice and professional endeavors. The ...
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While the New Brunswick offices of the New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program (NJLAP) are currently closed, it remains ready and available to assist lawyers, judges, law students and law graduates with both personal and professional well-being issues.  NJLAP is available by phone at 800-246-5527 and is also maintaining a constantly updated COVID-19 web page linked at the top of its home page at  njlap.org . “As the free and confidential resource assisting New Jersey lawyers for the past 25 years, NJLAP is reaching out during this emergency to remind attorneys, judges, law students and law graduates that they are not alone,” said William John Kane, director ...
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Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Judge Glenn A. Grant expressed gratitude to the state’s lawyers for the critical role they are playing in ensuring access to justice in these unprecedented times. In a letter to NJSBA President Evelyn Padin this week, the Judiciary leaders praised attorneys who have been working zealously to assist clients in an ever-changing world. The letter also provided assurances that the New Jersey courts would continue to provide essential services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The letter goes on to enumerate steps the Judiciary has taken to meet requirements of social distancing. ...
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The New Jersey State Bar Association has reached out to government officials on a number of critical issues facing the legal profession and the state’s residents. NJSBA Urges Division of Workers' Compensation to Resume Hearing Emergent Matters The NJSBA asked the state's labor commissioner and chief judge of the Division of Workers' Compensation to resume hearing cases to ensure that New Jersey’s injured workers continue to receive their statutory benefits in a time of financial stress, just as other litigants’ rights continue to be met in the superior courts. Officials at the Division of Workers’ Compensation said they are working on a plan ...
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First-ever electronic voting session advances key bills Amid the post-COVID-19-imposed statewide lockdown of non-essential businesses, the Assembly acted last Thursday in the first-ever remote voting session authorized by the newly passed law permitting public bodies to meet remotely during a public health emergency or state of emergency. Key bills were advanced that would greatly impact the lives of New Jersey residents and access to justice in New Jersey.   Remote Notary Bill   A-3903 (Downey/Houghtaling/Swain) passed the Assembly with overwhelming support. It would supplant a bill, presently sitting on the governor’s desk, to permit notaries ...
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The legal profession is replete with pressures, but with the additional challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, both physical and mental, there’s no better time to take steps to strengthen a sense of well-being.   A number of legal websites offer useful advice. Patrick Krill, founder of Krill Strategies, a behavioral health consulting firm focused exclusively on the legal industry, recently wrote that “it’s important to recognize that anxiety and panic rarely lead to good decision-making or improved circumstances, but frequently lead to fatigue, emotional exhaustion and retrospectively disproportionate despair and energy expenditure.”   Among ...
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Legislative bodies on both the state and federal level are working on measures to blunt the enormous economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some key elements that law firms may want to keep in mind.   Paid sick and medical leave Among the provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act , signed by President Trump on March 18, is the requirement  that small and medium-size businesses offer two weeks of emergency paid sick leave and 10 weeks of paid emergency family medical leave under certain circumstances related to COVID-19. The law applies to employers with less than 500 employees, though employers with fewer than 50 ...
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With so many New Jersey attorneys working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is paramount they protect their computer and data, especially now as threats evolve to try to take advantage of teleworkers.   PracticeHQ, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s legal practice management platform that is free for members, offers numerous helpful articles on this subject. While a firewall, spam filter and password policy are good starters, more can be done, cautions one article on the site. For example, you can learn to avoid three security blind spots that if left unchecked, can be a huge risk to security or clients.   Don’t cut corners on your backup ...
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Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all non-essential retail businesses in New Jersey to close by 9 p.m. tonight in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Murphy issued an executive order today that directs almost all residents of the state to stay at home.  The order comes on the heels of governors in several other states making similar declarations, as well as a spike in the number of New Jerseyans infected with the virus in recent days . Other businesses, including law firms, are directed to have most of their workforce, “wherever practicable,” telework from home, with the exception of employees who cannot perform their functions via these arrangements. Specifically, ...
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Below is the text of the letter sent to Gov. Murphy this morning urging law firms and lawyers be deemed essential and remain open under his executive order. A copy of the letter can also be found here.  Dear Governor Murphy :  We appreciate the heroic efforts that you and your administration are undertaking in these unprecedented times. We also acknowledge that each of us will be required to sacrifice to ensure that we limit the damage, both human and economic, that will be caused by this pandemic.  We understand that you are poised to issue a statewide directive today, to supersede the numerous local directives, to provide uniformity in how we ...
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As the New Jersey legal community scrambles to adjust to a new way of working during the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s (NJSBA) has free resources that members can tap into. PracticeHQ , a new legal practice management platform, has a wealth of useful articles, comparison charts and tutorials that can help with running a legal practice from home. PracticeHQ sifts through the welter of features and prices that various service providers offer so attorneys can quickly evaluate what VoIP [voice over internet protocol] they could use to receive office phone calls at their new home-based offices; what web meeting services they ...
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Social distancing means you are more reliant than ever on your technology and the Internet for the work of your firm and clients, and that also means remaining vigilant on the cybersecurity and online scam front. The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) reports that they are seeing more phishing and other scams this week that attempt to exploit the global concern over COVID-19.  “Email and social media-based phishing scams referencing the virus attempt to convince recipients to open links or attachments to direct users to malicious websites or deliver malware , reveal sensitive information, or donate to fraudulent causes,” ...
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The NJSBA told government officials that lawyers and law firms are essential and should not be closed during the public health crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.   The public's right to access to justice is one of the core foundations of a just and civilized society, the Association told officials in Bergen County, as well as the Governor. Lawyers across the state are being flooded with urgent questions from the public, like how to protect themselves from abuse, how to prepare a power of attorney for what may be coming, and what to do if they risk mortgage delinquency because of debt.   "Shutting down such access is not something that can be ...
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These are challenging times and the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and NJSBA are here for you.  In response to the challenges the COVID-19 crisis presents for the legal profession, we are offering a series of free webinars. Attendees can log into live and ask questions in real time, or watch archived versions at your convenience.  The list to date is below. Check back often.  Do you have an idea for a webinar that we should do? Email us at [email protected] Practical Wellness Techniques for the COVID-19 Outbreak Archive link coming soon We are living through unprecedented times. Worries about COVID-19, moving your ...
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