The recent COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that not all courts, government offices, and law firms were prepared for remote practice of law, remote court proceedings, and other legal processes.
Our citizens and business community must have access to the legal services they need at all times – especially in a time of crisis. Everything from the execution of wills or health care directives to the need for criminal defense attorneys to meet with their detained or incarcerated clients in person in order to provide confidential legal advice and to protect their clients' constitutional rights.
Many courts and government offices have the technology to provide secure electronic filing and video capabilities to conduct court proceedings. Many courts do not. If these and other challenges are not overcome, adverse consequences may fall on individuals and families.
There was also a lack of consistency among the various court systems in Pennsylvania in their processes and ability to continue operations.
What is clear is that our law offices. government offices, and all courts must be prepared to continue to operate on a seamless basis even in the face of such a crisis situation. Continuing legal education rules and bar admission examinations and rules are in need of similar updating.
This working group will bring together representatives of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania Association for Justice, Pennsylvania Defense Institute, Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to develop recommendations to update processes and technology to enable the legal system to continue to operate under any similar emergency circumstances.