The top players in the legal community in Pennsylvania have done their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by pivoting to remote arrangements and embracing new technologies. We asked three of our Best Lawyers recognized attorneys for their perspective of Pennsylvania's legal life in 2021.

Efrem Grail on the biggest challenge local lawyers are facing

 

The Grail Law Firm

Recognized for criminal defense: white-collar since 2008

The pandemic has caused a host of problems for practicing lawyers last year. I am incredibly lucky: health at home and busy at work – but above all else, I miss the personal contact with clients, colleagues, and opposing counsel.

We can argue about whether virtual hearings and online “meet and confer” sessions are better, as good as, or not quite up to the real thing, but no one is going to argue they are much fun. Let’s face it, there are easier ways to make a living if you don’t enjoy the back-and-forth, hopefully good-natured arguing; the personal contact with clients who need and rely on your help; trying to piece through to an optimal solution to some legal issue with co-counsel or legal staff; and general water cooler BS-ing. Doing it on Zoom or Teams just does not scratch the itch I am talking about.

Some people only practice with or against snakes, so I can imagine not wanting to have any more contact with them than necessary. But the people I work with, and, with a few notable exceptions, most of whom I work against are smart, are principled, bring diverse views, and some of them are fun to be around. Some have become good friends; some were good friends before we were colleagues or had cases against each other.

It’s just not the same online. I miss talking through issues over lunch at the nearby Indian buffet, going out for a beer after work at the craft brewery, or even grabbing an impromptu bite to eat when happy hour extends into the dinner hour. I feel a loss for the good times we didn’t have together and will never quite make up for. I’m looking more and more towards getting back to a life that is not only work and family, but a life that is social, without having to be on-screen.

Jonathan Grode shares how this year’s challenges have impacted his practice

 

Green and Spiegel LLP

Recognized for immigration law since 2021

The pandemic has had a twofold effect on my practice. First, while running a firm, we deal with the issues that everyone has been facing with a remote setup. Onboarding new employees remains a challenge and figuring out ways to keep the atmosphere, camaraderie, and creativity intact takes extra effort as well. Then as a corporate immigration attorney, we have the challenges of the pandemic precluding international travel for health and safety reasons and, of course, the ever-changing government restrictions.

So, yes, it has been a challenging year; but it is a challenge we are facing head-on for ourselves and our clients.

When asked if he had anything else to share about practicing law in Pennsylvania, Grode commented:

Pennsylvania industry is changing. From the advancement of AI and Aerospace in the Pittsburgh region to biotech startups in Philadelphia, there are new opportunities for growth. Being part of that growth through helping foreign nationals move to the state has been a source of pride for the Firm.

Victor Pribanic shares what he would like prospective clients to know

 
Pribanic & Pribanic, LLC

Recognized for medical malpractice law - plaintiffs since 2011

It is important that anyone with a potential case knows that even though our courts have effectively been closed to jury trials, that does not extend deadlines or in any way influence an injured party’s obligation to file a lawsuit on time. Which includes taking other actions required by, for instance, the Pennsylvania statute of limitations that requires that injury cases be filed within statutorily prescribed time intervals.

Therefore, anyone with a potential case should not delay in contacting a lawyer if they have been harmed by a person, corporation, or healthcare provider. Our courts will hold them to prescribed time limits without exception. We have continued to maintain relationships with clients, old and new, by maintaining all the services and interactions that we enjoyed in the pre-pandemic era through technology as we await a return to normalcy.

In short, people should act promptly to protect their rights because, as always, there will be no quarter given by the defendants or the courts if claims are not prosecuted on time.

The result of pandemic-driven delays has reminded each and every one of us privileged with the role of trying our client’s cases to juries that the following is undoubtedly true: our civil justice system, albeit imperfect, is the last and best hope for many of our clients—when its wheels grind to a halt, so too, does the opportunity to obtain justice. Jurists everywhere should be cognizant of this truth and actively seek out, with the help of the trial bar, ways to safely achieve justice without further delay.