November 30, 2020

Getting Back to Court in the Age of COVID-19

BY: Steve Grim

This year has seen lots of firsts. The one new thing that none of us has been able to ignore is COVID-19. The aspects of the pandemic that most uniquely impact attorneys and our ability to advocate for our clients are things that are, to some degree or another, within our control.

The aspect of the pandemic that is having the most unique impact on our profession has been the changes at the Commonwealth’s courthouses: Courthouses are using laser thermometers and health-based questionnaires at their entrances and some courthouses have installed clear shields that leave the bench looking like a hockey penalty box.

Courthouses have also put social distancing measures in place. In Newport News, this includes having parties and witnesses wait across the street from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court until the clerk calls.

The biggest thing we can do to minimize the pandemic’s impact on us and our practice is to take care of ourselves. Keeping ourselves healthy can go a long way toward keeping our performance (professional or otherwise) from suffering. There are simple things we can do to strengthen our immune systems, reduce stress, and keep us performing the best we can for our families and clients.

Many of these measures are ones that have received increased attention within our profession in recent years. Cut back on the alcohol. Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, for most people. Don’t eat as many sweets. Make sure you get enough vitamins D and C. Give yourself a little more time to just relax or to walk around the block; the latter has all sorts of both mental and physical benefits and can help with vitamin D deficiency.

The most important thing to remember right now is that this too shall pass. Base what you think and do on what you see in the real world and medical advice from people who are qualified to give such advice. Ignore the negativity being peddled by reporters who are paid to make you panic and social media connections who have more time than ever to post depressing predictions of impending doom.

Recognize what is affecting you and your practice and take charge of the things that are within your control. Don’t let the anxiety get to you, because at the end of the day we’re still doing the same work.

About the Author

Steve Grim serves the City of Newport News as an Assistant City Attorney; his practice focuses on civil litigation and foster care matters. Steve graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law in 2017.