Your Foundation at Work in the Pandemic—April 2020

April 21, 2020

As we hit the six-week mark since the coronavirus upended our lives, the CBF has been hard at work helping to move the court system to remote access and adapt the way we deliver legal services, support that work, and help others during this crisis. The way our legal community has quickly stepped up to this challenge has inspired us, and following are just a few highlights of the important work you have been making possible during this time.

Remote Access to the Courts: We have been working closely with the courts at the local and state level as everyone adjusts on the fly to this new remote environment that our court system was not set up well to handle. With most state court matters on temporary hold in the near term, we’ve focused most of our recent efforts around the essential cases that still need to move forward, particularly domestic violence cases.

The remote process for emergency orders of protection essentially needed to be built from scratch at a trying time for the court system. With the leadership of the Chief Judge’s office and two of our partner organizations, a workable remote process was developed that has the potential to be a model for other areas of the court.

Facilitating remote access to the courts will continue to be one of our top priorities for the foreseeable future.

Pro Bono: With a heightened interest in pro bono but some new practical challenges to delivering those services remotely, we’ve been working with various pro bono stakeholders to identify or develop good remote pro bono models. One concrete product of that work is a new directory of pro bono opportunities that can be done in this new remote environment that is available on the CBF website and also is a new tab in our online pro bono directory.

Through the CBF Legal Aid Academy, we’ve also been working on getting timely virtual programming to our legal aid community.

CBA/CBF Task Force: The current crisis has called attention to how far behind our profession and justice system were on remote access, remote services, and our overall model of delivering justice. The work of the CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law & Innovation to modernize our profession’s regulatory framework to advance those goals has suddenly become more timely than we ever would have known when it kicked off last fall.

The Task Force is on track to deliver a full report and comprehensive suite of draft recommendations by June for public comment, with the final version going to the Supreme Court in September.

Community Leadership: As our legal community faces its own challenges due to the pandemic, the CBF is working to keep pro bono, legal aid and other access to justice issues at the forefront.

While the timing of the Investing in Justice Campaign is more spread out this year and has not even reached the halfway point, the nearly 2,000 lawyers and legal professionals who already have contributed in the midst of the crisis are showing our legal community is second to none in their leadership and strong support for this work. An inspiring letter from our current and past Campaign Chairs late last month underscored this point.

Thank you for your continued leadership, partnership, and strong support. As we continue to respond to the immediate challenges this crisis has created, we know that together, we will all get through this and come out with a stronger and more resilient legal system on the other side.