Lawyers, law firms feel strain of COVID-19 pandemic's business consequences

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Since the pandemic shut down courthouses and relegated many proceedings to Zoom, there was immediate impact on the business side of law.

As courts across metro Chicago slowly emerge from pandemic protocols, with sanitizers, sprays, masks and continued social distancing, some attorneys are still struggling with a new way of doing things. There is a hybrid of in-person legal work, Zoom calls, delays and postponements, that have been a real business struggle for some lawyers and law firms.

"This new normal does impact the way that we run our businesses...and there are some advantages and disadvantages and some discomfort as we get used to the new normal," criminal defense attorney Tony Thedford said.

"I much prefer the olden days, pre-COVID, where you can have face-to-face interaction," said criminal defense attorney Darryl A. Goldberg. "I think much more gets accomplished in a shorter period of time."

"It remains to be seen how we're going to navigate this," plaintiff's attorney Mirella Capellupo Siwik said.

In courtrooms across the Chicago area, it is sometimes easy to overlook that law isn't just a calling, it is a business. The reality of a pandemic, in what is usually a face-to-face business, has been a financial strain.

"It depends on the lawyer and depends on the type of cases that you're handling. A lot of lawyers in state court rely upon the funds posted by defendants as part of their payment, in all of their payments, and if the case gets delayed because the pandemic and pushes it out and that causes problems, fortunately that's not something that's affected me but I could see how it very much could affect other lawyers," said Goldberg.

During COVID, there has also a push to settle more cases.

"Judges, arbitrators, have made themselves available to really move more cases along and try to get them resolved," said Capellupo Siwik.

"I truly think all of this is going to help the access to justice," Chief Judge Kenneth Popejoy of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court told the I-Team.
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