Members of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force called for the creation of this ongoing series of quick tips to assist members as they adjust to the impacts of the coronavirus crisis. Tips provide insights on working effectively and efficiently from home, health and wellness techniques to cope with stress, and key points to safely reopen businesses. Tips appear on the PBA social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and in the Pennsylvania Bar News and the PBA e-brief.

September 28, 2020

As many people in the United States begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following considerations to help protect individuals, their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html?_cldee=bWpvbmVzQG11dGpsYXcuY29t&recipientid=contact-49c504ff610fe61180e66c3be5a8c804-c2a6a52d87784989a27a86f2af521c64&esid=3b515b0b-97fd-ea11-a815-000d3a4dfe21

September 25, 2020

Valve masks are not as good at preventing the spread of COVID-19 as a homemade cloth mask. The exhaust valves allow exhaled air to flow out more easily. The system is great at filtering smaller particles during hot, dusty construction work when you breathe in, but the valve defeats the purpose when you’re trying to slow the spread of a virus. (Tip source: The Washington Post, Coronavirus Guide)

September 14, 2020

Public health officials, fearing that the confluence of Covid-19 and influenza cases could result in a “twindemic” that will further overburden hospitals and testing locations, are urging influenza vaccinations for nearly everyone. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone get the flu shot in September or October, before the start of the flu season. Experts suggest that adults 65 and those with compromised immune systems wait until at least mid-September so that the vaccine’s protection lasts the entire season. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm

August 26, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advice when caring for someone at home with COVID-19 and when taking emergency measures ae necessary. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html

August 21, 2020

The Mayo Clinic is advising to not be tempted to use questionable products or methods to stay healthy during the pandemic. They are extremely unlikely to work and might cause serious harm. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-myths/art-20485720

August 14, 2020

Before heading out, Mayo Clinic has a quick online guide with safety reminders for grocery shopping, pumping gas and more. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-safety-tips/art-20485967

August 11, 2020

Regularly communicate the steps your firm is taking to keep employees and clients safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. From limiting the number of clients in the office at a time to making sure clients know about your privacy and security measures when meeting virtually, information is key. https://bringingpaback.com/welcome-back-employees-customers/

August 3, 2020

A study by SHRM found that 62% of small businesses have experienced revenue declines during the pandemic. To help keep businesses afloat (and maybe even thriving) during trying times, Forbes is offering five marketing tips: https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikekappel/2020/07/22/marketing-your-business-during-covid-19/#482f42895c92

July 28, 2020

Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers-Pennsylvania continually updates its “Resources for the Legal Profession During Covid-19” webpage, which includes a collection of links to information supporting the well-being of lawyers during pandemic: https://www.pabar.org/pdf/2020/LCL-Updated.pdf

July 24, 2020

A Carnegie Mellon University psychology professor offers practical tips for maintaining good health at all times, including while quarantining during a pandemic: https://www.fastcompany.com/90526153/how-susceptible-are-you-to-covid-19-design-your-quarantine-life-to-help-fight-it 

July 22, 2020

Secure Your Accounts – Turn on Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication is an option in many online accounts offer. How it works is, if you try to log in from a new device, the site will send a code to your phone or an email address. You need to enter that code to log in. The same is true if you forget your password. This way, if someone gets your password and tries to log in, they won’t be able to do so unless they also get one of your devices. For more information https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/two-factor-authentication-who-has-it-and-how-to-set-it-up

July 17, 2020

Put a notice about your firm’s operation during COVID-19 on your website. In addition to putting a sign on your door you should put a notice on your website about COVID-19. That notice should include: Whether your office is open. Whether you are seeing visitors in your office. How are you are handling any issues such as signing wills or other estate documents and so on. Make sure to update the notice as you change what you are doing. For details see https://jlellis.net/blog/put-a-covid-19-notice-on-your-website/

July 13, 2020

As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the CARES Act directs the IRS to issue Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to eligible individuals, married couples, and families with children. The American Bar Association Tax Section offers information to help promote the availability of these payments, especially for those who assist lower-income clients, non-filers, and other vulnerable populations, and to warn against scams. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

July 10, 2020

Commonwealth Urges Those Traveling from High-Risk States to Quarantine
All Pa. counties are in the green phase but there are concerns that increasing cases in southern and western states could impact Pa. In addition to avoiding large gatherings and wearing masks, the Commonwealth is urging all Pa. residents who travel to states with high numbers of COVID-19 cases ( https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx) to quarantine for 14 days upon their return. An alternative would be to have two negative COVID-19 tests at least 48 hours apart.

July 6, 2020

The Family First Act requires covered employers with less than 500 workers to provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19-related leave time. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Labor's Family First Act question and answer webpage: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

July 6, 2020

As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the CARES Act directs the IRS to issue Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to eligible individuals, married couples and families with children. The American Bar Association Tax Section offers information to help promote the availability of these payments, especially for those who assist lower-income clients, non-filers and other vulnerable populations, and to warn against scams.

July 2, 2020

Prepare, in the event it is necessary, to return to work from home should COVID-19 return to your area. Now is the time to develop an infectious disease response plan. Read how at https://www.pabar.org/site/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=rPSSvnYIJaA%3d&portalid=0. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

June 30, 2020

When using any type of transportation, follow these general guidelines: practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; practice social distancing; wear a cloth face covering; stay home when appropriate. The CDC has guidelines specific for public transportation, shared rides and personal vehicles at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/using-transportation.html.

June 29, 2020

Tip: Multi-Factor authentication (MFA) can be used on all accounts to add an additional level of security. MFA typically combines something you know (i.e., as password) with something you have (i.e., phone, mobile device, security key, etc.) to limit the threat to online accounts to unauthorized access. MFA can take a number of different forms but is an effective tool to protect your email, files, and client information. Consider implementing MFA on your online accounts to add an additional layer of protection. Read more at the Guidance to Address Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Concerns When Providing Remote Legal Services.

June 26, 2020

Sitting for long periods of time can sabotage your health. Hunching over a laptop in a makeshift work space is even worse. These exercises can give relief, improve posture and restore muscle function. Tip source: The New York Times, Simple 5 to Combat All That Sitting. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

June 25, 2020

Many of us are feeling increasingly stressed, which often leads to emotional eating. If you experience unwanted eating behavior because of strong negative emotion, it is helpful to acknowledge and experience your feelings away from food. Read How to Curb Emotional Eating During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Psychology Today. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

June 19, 2020

Tip: Reopening offices will require significant design changes. It will require significant behavioral changes as well. We will need to hold each other accountable. Decades of research suggest that the heart of a high reliability culture is immediate peer accountability. Tip source: 5 Tips for Safely Reopening Your Office, Harvard Business Review. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

June 17, 2020

Timely Tip: The top of the list of what to address in a reopening plan is workplace safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a Workplace Decision Tool to help you make the right decisions to protect you and your staff. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

June 12, 2020

All reopening businesses must post the Commonwealth’s “COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses” flyer on their premises, both in an employee common space and a space visible to clients. A link to that flyer is included in “Reopening Your Practice: Considerations from the PBA.” https://www.pabar.org/site/News-and-Publications/COVID-19-Resources-Guide/Considerations-for-reopening

June 11, 2020

Timely Tip: Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can claim a tax deduction on home office expenses. As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for tax years 2018 through 2025, you can’t deduct home office expenses if you are an employee. Tip Source: Forbes, Kelly Phillips Erb, Working From Home? Your Home Office Expenses Are Probably Not Tax-Deductible. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. #PBAtimelytips

June 10, 2020

When reopening your office, encourage employees to open windows, if and where feasible, to reduce airborne transmission risks. Learn more in “Reopening Your Practice: Considerations https://www.pabar.org/site/News-and-Publications/COVID-19-Resources-Guide/Considerations-for-reopening #PBAtimelytips

June 8, 2020

Timely Tip: Lawyers have a duty to abide by the Professional Rules of Conduct, even in emergencies. This includes the Code of Civility. Lawyers should be prepared to agree to reasonable extensions and continuances as may be necessary to avoid in-person meetings, hearings or depositions. Tip Source: PBA Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee Formal Opinion 2020-300, Lawyers’ Ethical Obligations When Working Remotely. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. #PBAtimelytips

June 5, 2020

#PBAtimelytips: Pennsylvania lawyers have a new informational tool, “Reopening Your Practice: Considerations from the Pennsylvania Bar Association,” compiled by the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. Read the guide (membership login required): https://bit.ly/2AHtKOa

June 3, 2020

Timely Tip: If the unthinkable happens and you are forced to close your practice, know that it takes a good deal of time and a lot of emotional strength to do so. Closing a practice should be organized and guided by a simple but comprehensive written plan. Read the PBA Solo and Small Firm Section’s Closing your Practice: Meeting Your Ethical Obligations to Clients. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. (Shared on social media on 6/2)

June 1, 2020

Timely Tip: As counties move to the yellow phase, the governor’s guidance continues to be that businesses must employ remote or virtual methods of doing business whenever and wherever possible. If in-person operations are necessary, businesses must comply with safety protocols. Tip source: Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Yellow Phase Business Guidance. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. #PBAtimelytipsTimely

May 29, 2020

Timely Tip: Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can claim a tax deduction on home office expenses. As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for tax years 2018 through 2025, you can’t deduct home office expenses if you are an employee. Tip Source: Forbes, Kelly Phillips Erb, Working From Home? Your Home Office Expenses Are Probably Not Tax-Deductible. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. #PBAtimelytips

May 27, 2020

Timely Tip: IT will be in the middle of the new normal. Objections to emerging technologies are melting away. Now is the time to institute culture change, lean start-up style. Tip source: CIO.com, 8 Tips for Driving Digital Strategy During COVID-19. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. #PBAtimelytips

May 25, 2020

Timely Tip: Eyes stinging and burning? It’s no wonder you have screen fatigue after staring at screens all day and night. Give yourself more breaks. Allow at least 10-15 minutes between virtual meetings. Look away from the screen and at distant objects frequently. Reduce on-screen stimuli by minimizing windows, and change the videoconferencing layout to show only the speaker. Tip source: Associations Now Daily Buzz, Adapt Your Work Habits to Overcome Screen Fatique. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force. #PBAtimelytips

May 22, 2020

Timely Tip: A lawyer having direct supervisory authority over another lawyer must work to ensure that the other lawyer conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct. Tip source: PBA Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Formal Opinion 2020-300, Ethical Obligations for Lawyers Working Remotely. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

May 21, 2020

Timely Tip: The first step in re-opening is making sure your facility is a safe environment for you, your employees and your clients. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed comprehensive guidelines on how best to prepare your workplace. Tip source: https://bringingpaback.com/, an initiative of the PA Chamber. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

May 20, 2020

Timely Tip: Communicate purposefully, consistently and often. Keeping your organization engaged is a critical challenge of remote working. For more best practice tips on working remotely, go to Best Practices for Legal Employees. Tip source: A National Survey on the New Normal of Working Remotely: Best Practices for Legal Employees, the Red Bee Group LLC. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

May 19, 2020

Timely Tip: Create a disclosure for the use of Zoom with clients and make them aware of the security risks. Lawyers should make disclosures for all types of communications since they all have risks, especially email. Read more about Zoom at https://jlellis.net/blog/a-word-about-zoom-for-lawyers/. Tip source: PBA Solo and Small Firm Section Listserv. Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.

May 18, 2020

Timely Tip: Working remotely shouldn’t mean working chaotically. Creating a routine and structure is vital. That means maintaining a normal sleep and awake schedule, working during the times you used to work, and making time for exercise and time outdoors. Get more coping strategies at https://www.lclpa.org/. Tip source: The Pennsylvania Bar News, “Mental Health Resources for Lawyers.” Timely Tips is a project of the PBA COVID-19 Task Force.


 

 

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