Jill Epstein is executive director of the San Diego County Bar Association. Previously, she was the executive director of...
Keith Fisher is deputy executive director of the San Diego County Bar Association.
Adriana Linares is a law practice consultant and legal technology coach. After several years at two of Florida’s largest...
Many bar associations have struggled to maintain operations during the pandemic, but the San Diego County Bar Association was ahead of the curve during COVID closures. What did they do differently? Host Adriana Linares talks with Jill Epstein and Keith Fisher of the SDCBA about how they managed the transition and the technology that has helped them successfully continue operations.
Jill Epstein is executive director of the San Diego County Bar Association.
Keith Fisher is deputy executive director of the San Diego County Bar Association.
Help for Bar Associations: Insights on How to Continue Operations During COVID-19 Trends Report
Intro: So you are an attorney and you have decided to go out on your own, now what? You need a plan and you are not alone. Join expert host Adriana Linares and her distinguished guests on New Solo. Tune into the lively conversation as they share insights and information about how to successfully run your law firm, here on Legal Talk Network.
Adriana Linares: Hello, welcome to another episode of New Solo on Legal Talk Network. I am Adriana Linares, a legal technology trainer and consultant. I help lawyers and law firms use technology better. But today I am hoping to help Bar Associations use technology better.
This is a special episode that I decided to record during the COVID crisis to help Bar Associations. Many of you might not know but I work part time as the Technology and Practice Management Advisor for the San Diego County Bar. They have done a great job at getting their staff mobilized and working from home and still serving their member needs. I am going to introduce you to two really fantastic guests and members of that Bar Association, but before we get started I want to make sure and thank our sponsors.
Thanks to our sponsor ROSS Intelligence, the legal research platform that leverages AI to get to the heart of legal issues fast. Go to rossintelligence.com for a 14-day free trial.
Nexa, formerly known as Answer1, is a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them a call at 800-267-9371 or online at nexa.com.
Thanks to our sponsor Clio. Check out Clio’s Daily Matters podcast featuring valuable perspectives on legal in the COVID-19 era. Listen to Daily Matters at clio.com/daily or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
LAWCLERK is where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Visit lawclerk.legal to learn how to increase your productivity and your profits by working with talented freelance lawyers.
Adriana Linares: So I am excited to introduce you all to, I called them “members” a second ago, but they are actually the Executive Director and the Deputy Executive Director of the San Diego County Bar Association. Jill Epstein and Keith Fisher.
Jill Epstein: Hi.
Adriana Linares: Why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your role at the San Diego County Bar Association?
Jill Epstein: Sure. So I am Jill Epstein. I am the Executive Director at the San Diego County Bar Association and I just celebrated my one-year anniversary here.
Adriana Linares: Whoo-whoo, by the way, congratulations.
Jill Epstein: Thank you.
Adriana Linares: What about you, Keith?
Keith Fisher: I am Jill’s Deputy, if that makes any sense, but yeah, I am the Deputy Executive Director at San Diego County Bar and I am newest to the Bar Association in that I joined I don’t know eight months ago, nine months ago.
Adriana Linares: I think that’s about right, you haven’t quite hit your one-year anniversary yet because you came in after Jill.
Keith Fisher: That is correct.
Adriana Linares: So both of you are, well, not necessarily super-new and having watched that both of you make your way into the Bar and become familiar with the Bar, I feel like you guys have been there forever. You have done a really great job before this craziness began, and what I really wanted to have you on the show for is a special episode hoping to help other Bar Associations. For those listeners who don’t know or haven’t listened to an episode where I have talked about it, I serve as the San Diego County Bar Association’s Technology and Practice Management Advisor, so I have the honor and the pleasure of getting to go to San Diego one week out of every month to work at the San Diego County Bar.
So Jill and Keith are my bosses essentially when I am there and they are also very good friends of mine. When Corona crisis COVID-19 struck I was so proud of them and how quickly they were able to mobilize the workforce and turn them into a mobile workforce. So I wanted to bring them on and have them sort of walk through what decisions they had to make, what information they use to make those decisions and then we will ultimately talk about the technology that enabled them to send everyone home to a safe and secure place to work and still be able to serve the membership during a time when the members are really looking to the Bar for help and advice that how they are going to survive, how their businesses are going to endure, and what’s going on with the courts.
So why don’t we start with you, Jill, when you got a hold of this information and you all send everyone home a lot earlier than a lot of other organizations did and other businesses in San Diego, tell me a little bit about sort of backtrack and tell us what went through your mind, who did you get together and start thinking about, what are we going to do?
Jill Epstein: So the timeline for us started back in February, and I really attribute that a lot to the fact that I have a lot of my friends, I have children who are not such children anymore but who have kids who were studying abroad in Europe.
And through my friends I was hearing about what was happening there and I was getting increasingly concerned and so when I looked at my calendar I look back and I could see that we had our first senior staff meeting at February 26 to talk about planning for a closure in coming weeks.
Adriana Linares: No kidding, February 26?
Jill Epstein: Yeah. We were — like I said I was just seeing certainly writing on the wall from what was happening in Europe and so we started talking about what it would look like to prepare an office to close but we had the additional challenge before we could get to getting staff home we had the first challenge of the fact that we have a public-facing Bar center like a lawyers’ lounge for lawyers and their clients to meet. And the first thing that we realized was that we really needed to limit exposure. So we needed to limit members’ exposure to each other, we needed to limit members’ exposure to the staff and so we made a difficult decision because it is a very important benefit to our members to come use our beautiful Bar Center that we needed to close that down.
So we closed that down on March 6 and it was interesting that most of the feedback we got was good, there were a few people who thought we were overreacting, but we persevered, and at that point once we were able to close it down to the public, close down our live events and anyone who comes into the lounge then we were able to look internally at the staff. Now we were able to figure out what were we going to do now to get all the staff ready to become virtual? And that was where we had to spend. We spent the next week or so getting everybody set up virtually which at least in our Bar Association very few people were set up to work virtually and nobody worked at home until now.
So many of our employees are non-exempt and so just the rule of thumb is that non-exempt employees don’t usually have access to their networks from home because people are supposed to work only during set hours. So, Keith, another of our staff worked really hard to get everybody linked so that they could work from home, that’s a very technical term “links”, I am not even sure what I never said, but we decided to do a practice day. So on March 12 —
Adriana Linares: So smart.
Jill Epstein: — everyone was able to work at home. We went home for the day and remotely senior staff were monitoring the network, how that was functioning with every single person using it remotely, we were monitoring bandwidth, we were monitoring our telephone system which Keith can talk more about that, and came back on the 13th — on Friday the 13th debriefed and closed the office; and we haven’t been back since.
Adriana Linares: We haven’t. So, Keith, let me ask you a question that I actually should have started with, but Jill made me think of this when she started talking about the Bar. Tell us a little bit about the Bar, how many members there are, about the member lounge, how very, very frequently people come in and actually visit the Bar and use the Bar because I think that’s a really important point that I hadn’t thought about Jill until you mentioned that which is unlike a lot of other Bar Associations and I visit a lot of them, we have tens of members that come in every single day.
Keith Fisher: Well, Adriana, we are a very active Bar in that we are so centrally located downtown to the courthouses in the local vicinity, but there’s also an immigration court within our building just three floors down. So we have a lot of meetings that occur within our conference center and our conference rooms that involve our members, their clients, sometimes it’s a group. So there is — we are fairly active Bars in downtown and given our size because we are nearly 10,000 members, it’s a pretty vibrant and active engagement that we have with our Bar members. So there’s a lot of activity, and that was one of the things that we really had to evaluate and consider when we looked at what does it mean to shut this down like how do we do, do we phase it out?
And one of the things that we had to do is initially think about what it would mean to just close the Bar Center from meetings and from — and what have you and keep staff only. So we did a transition plan where we actually closed the Bar Center and it was just staff members or we got to clean and Purell everything but still let me buy gallons and gallons and gallons of Purell way in advance. Now we can’t get it to save lives.
One of the things I am most proud of in terms of the way that we took care of our transition plan is the caring concern that we took with employees and staff because it was hard, we had Bar members that we knew had just traveled home from exotic ski trips and parts of Switzerland and we had other members that were bringing in their clients that were coughing and sneezing and we have frontline people who express concern. So it was really hard for Jill and I to think about putting these folks in front of the public, if you will, and exposing them to something that could potentially affect them personally or individually.
So I’m really, really proud of — and Jill’s decision to move forward as aggressively as we did, because I think there were some that perhaps thought we were overreacting in the beginning, but to that end I think that we actually were kind of forerunners in the decisions to shut down early. And what we have learned since from some of our peers in the Bar Center world is that we’re kind of a couple of weeks ahead of the game and I credit Jill for that simply because she and I spent a lot of sleepless nights, we call it sleepless in San Diego not sleepless in Seattle where we get text messages from one another in the middle of the night, but to that end, we were worried, we were genuinely concerned about making sure that we’re taking care of ourselves and taking care of the people around us.
Adriana Linares: Well, and that’s just true to form for leadership at this Bar Association. Again, I spend a lot of time with other Bar Associations and I feel like most of them are certainly very caring, but because we’re a tight small group at the San Diego County Bar and not a giant State Bar Association you both care very deeply about staff and the Bar members, so that’s very apparent.
Before I ask you a few more questions let’s take a quick break and listen to some messages from some sponsors.
The legal industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation and the Daily Matters podcast is here to give you a competitive edge. In Daily Matters, Clio’s CEO Jack Newton interviews prominent legal experts to explore how solo and small firm lawyers can succeed in the current economic environment. So listen, visit clio.com/daily or subscribe to Daily Matters wherever you get your podcasts.
Artificial Intelligence will outpace lawyers anytime soon, but lawyers who use AI are already outpacing lawyers who do not. With ROSS Intelligence lawyers conducting legal research leverage AI to get to the heart of legal issues fast. Ask a question on the ROSS Legal Research platform and ROSS will return on-point case law. Go to rossintelligence.com today and get a 14-day free trial. Use promo code LEGALTALK for 10% off.
Adriana Linares: As someone who visits the Bar on a regular basis and sees how well you all work together and how much you guys truly care about the staff and the Bars, not that other Bars don’t that you’re a smaller group, we’re a smaller group and that shines through every day.
So I think it’s really amazing that you took such quick steps, Jill, it’s really kudos to you and of course Keith and everyone that supported you. I’m sure you had to run all this to your Executive Committee. How did that go down when you told them your plans?
Jill Epstein: You know what, they were tremendously supportive. I think that they asked appropriate questions as members wanting to know the impact it would have on other members and which was perfectly appropriate and I was able to explain the impact that it would have — the honest impact was that members who come to our Bars and it would no longer have access to it that we were going to have to transition all of our live programming to virtual programming, but I also assured them that for the member experience it would be very seamless. Everyone would be able to work from home, all calls would be routed directly do people’s hardware at home. So I had the support and the comfort once I presented it and answered those questions that they’ve been fabulous.
Adriana Linares: Another question for you. When you were making these decisions late February, early March, could you have ever imagined what it was going to become?
Jill Epstein: What I would say is this, every time I made a difficult decision I thought things would get easier, at least my load would get easier. And what I have experienced since then — so making the big decision to close the Bar Center. I thought that would give me a little breathing space, but that rolled into the big decision to close and move staff home, and then that moved into a lot of big decisions about employees about learning about different employment law, remote employees, new federal programs, healthcare, that sick leave and lots of Employment Law seminars which then rolled into — which is a different topic not for this podcast, but then that rolled into the realities of the budget and then having to make some difficult decisions on our budget. So I thought that would then once we made those difficult decisions I would get some breathing room to just actually do my work.
And now I monitor the news every day and already started a list by my computer of like what does reopening look like and starting to look ahead. So, no, I could never have imagined how complex it would be at every stage.
Adriana Linares: That’s amazing.
Keith Fisher: So that end, 3M stock has gone up because Jill has gone through reams of post-it notes 00:14:44.
Jill Epstein: As always though. Don’t say — Keith, don’t say that on a tech, we’re on a tech podcast, please. Oh no, no. Let’s just say they are those Adobe sticky notes.
Adriana Linares: Technology and practice management advisor is on this call, Keith.
Keith Fisher: I am embarrassed. I see the post-it because I’m on video calls. One thing that I can say with confidence and we have a lot of text messages to confirm this going back and forth. Not once have we looked back with regret, there are a number of tech messages that Jill and I have sent to one another that said “I’m really glad we made the decision when we did and how we did it,” and some of them are hard.
One of the things that we had to do was consider whether we furlough certain employees who had limited work during this transition or not furlough, because we did not want to impact our family in any negative way, and by “family”, I mean our staff members. The hardest decision of all to make was that of implementing a furlough program.
I mean, I remember back — way back at the beginning when we spoke to another fellow executive director at a Bar Association here in California, I learnt that she was laying off staff left and right we were just appalled through like we couldn’t do that. Like we couldn’t do that to our concierge, we couldn’t do that to our operations guy. So we needed to figure out a way to — in some ways keep our camp — our families together and so I feel good about what we did.
There were some tough decisions, but we tried to take some care and concern into mind as to how we transitioned this and spent a lot of time looking at estimates and what unemployment would mean to certain individuals and what certain care legislation benefits might positively impact certain individuals before we made the tough decision and the recommendation to our Finance Committee of the board. Before they asked us to do it we actually proactively made the recommendation to them, and I give Jill credit for leading that charge.
Adriana Linares: And I’m sure they were supportive because, I mean, you all have a very supportive group from the executive committee on to those finance committees and so on. So I’m sure they didn’t like it either, but the best decisions were made; and two, what’s interesting about this conversation I was thinking any law firm of the same or similar size is probably struggling with the exact same issues as a Bar Association, I mean, a business is a business at the end of the day.
Jill Epstein: That was one of the — as this last month went along like Keith said at the beginning we were like — we were going to toe the line and not have to make any difficult decisions about staff, but as the weeks went on it became apparent to us that the pain in our legal community is shared by everybody. And it wouldn’t be realistic for the Bar Association not to be financially impacted or to have to make difficult decisions that many law firms are making.
And so it was — we share in the pain and we’re doing more with less and tightening our belts and we just — we can’t wait till we’re all back in the office together again.
Adriana Linares: Before I ask you about technology and how everybody is so successfully working from home I am going to take another quick break.
If you’re missing calls, appointments and potential clients, it’s time to work with Nexa professional. More than just an answering service, Nexa’s virtual receptionists are available 24/7 to schedule appointments, qualified leads, respond to emails, integrate with your firm, software, and much more.
Nexa ensures your clients have the experience they deserve. Give them a call at 800-267-9371 or visit them at nexa.com/podcast for a special offer.
LAWCLERK is where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Whether you need a research memo or a complicated appellate brief our network of freelance lawyers have every level of experience and expertise. Signing up is free and there are no monthly fees. Only pay the flat fee price you said. Use rebate code NEWSOLO to get a $100 Amazon gift card when you complete your next project. Learn more at lawclerk.legal.
Adriana Linares: And we’re back talking to Jill Epstein and Keith Fisher of the San Diego County Bar Association.
Keith, let me ask you because I feel like you led the charge and so far as getting everybody connected or linked back to the office from home. We implemented Office 365 back in 2018, so that was a really good starting point for at least getting email and people being able to log into their most frequently accessed applications and our association membership program is cloud-based.
Keith Fisher: That is correct. So, Adriana, you remember when I joined back in the summer of last year when I learnt that we had a member technology officer and I didn’t know what that was back then, because I was so new in the association. When I had a meeting with you and I was just like, are you kidding me, we have a server room here at the Bar Association? And there’s like a separate air-conditioning system and these racks and all these file servers? I was just like I feel like I have just gone back 20 years in time, which I arguably had.
To that end we had implemented Office 365. We have this cloud-based association management system through MemberCentral, so basically we are using our file server as our network infrastructure and we have had some issues with some spam emails and concerns with viral infiltration and what have you. So you and I have pretty much been on the same page for much some time, but what’s happened to us with going remote overnight is it’s really forced us to look at how we are managing working remotely and how we are managing file security and how we are dealing with remote desktop login.
So the good news, bad news of this whole situation is that it’s forced us to look aggressively at transitioning to going 100% cloud-based and to your credit you are holding my hand and leading me down that path.
Adriana Linares: We will get there.
Keith Fisher: We will get there. What I felt really good about is getting us into a world of cybersecurity where it takes us out of the world of the vulnerable.
Adriana Linares: It’s true. Tell me was — because I am not there full-time, were people able to unplug their phones, take their phones home, plug them into a router and have the phone system work?
Keith Fisher: So it’s a little bit complex. We do have a Voice over IP system and initially I was just like God, we have Voice over IP, why can’t we just work anywhere with these phones. This just doesn’t make sense to me. So we did a little research, a little work to figure out with our phone vendor how to make it work and we do have a call center with our Lawyer Referral Service where we needed to figure out how to put that call distribution system in place independent of the main system.
So the good news is we were able to figure that all out on our test run day and Jill, our test run was March 6?
Jill Epstein: March 12.
Keith Fisher: Okay, March 12, so we did that early on and worked out some kinks there and the good news is it worked relatively seamlessly. We had some issues with some folks with their remote desktop getting into the file server, but that’s a whole story for another day. But for the most part we were able to be up and running and continue to run operations as though we were sitting there in our offices at 401 West A Street. So it’s pretty cool that to the outside world we essentially became transparent in terms of our transition.
Adriana Linares: And the LRS system is running like usual, right, callers are calling in, looking for lawyer, you are able to refer them?
Keith Fisher: Yeah, Referral Service is completely up and running.
Adriana Linares: And doing a hell of a job by the way.
Keith Fisher: Yeah, yeah.
Adriana Linares: Jill, tell us a little bit about LRS and its success stories over the past few weeks, which I am sure you were not expecting.
Jill Epstein: Yeah. Well, we have obviously been monitoring the amount of calls coming in, we wanted to see would people still — was there going to be any problem with the technology, and like he said the technology didn’t have a problem. The calls dropped a little bit, so they have dropped some percentage in callers, but we are still making thousands of referrals out into the community to our lawyers for cases.
So I think at this exact moment in time where people are worried about the economy and worried about downturns, this is a no-brainer for our members to get on our panels and continue to get referrals. So it’s just been very rewarding to us to be able to really help members at a time where everything is so uncertain.
And then we have also pivoted some of our marketing dollars too with the message that says we are still open, lawyers are still open, call us if you need a lawyer. And we have pivoted actually to a lot of digital marketing as opposed to the radio, which is we have contracts with the radio that has San Diego Padres games, which obviously are not being played. So we were able to put some of that money into digital and just get the message out that we are still open, I think that’s our big message at this point and it seems to be working.
Adriana Linares: So thanks to technology and the fact that you all had — you and me, because I am part of the group too, but it’s really you all have done this. A lot of your critical business services were already cloud-based and I think that’s an important message to send. This transition was easier for you than it probably was for a lot of other Bar Associations, businesses and law firms, because you had Office 365, you had a Voice over IP system, you have your most critical business tool, which is your Association Management Program which is cloud-based.
And really Keith the fact that that file server which houses the files that people access is the only thing that’s still sitting there, but you all are still able to log in through remote desktop is really a huge accomplishment. You guys should be really proud of yourselves and I hope you are.
Keith Fisher: Well, it’s kind of hard to pat yourself on the back when you are still in the trenches. It does feel good to know that we are operational, because we do have peers in the Bar Association world who are not as fortunate as we were to be up and running as quickly.
Case in point, another major Bar Association in the State of California really struggled at the beginning for Legal Referral Service because they didn’t have Voice over IP. They had an old school phone system to manage their free Lawyer Assistance Program.
So we really have tried to help one another in the Bar Association world with coming up with solutions, and one of the things that Jill and I have done weekly is participated in national calls with other Bar executives across the United States to kind of learn about what people are doing to solve some of these problems. And sometimes we would get off the phone and call each other or we would get off this conference call and call one another and like oh my God, we are so much better off right now.
Other times we actually humble ourselves and be like — we will be like, oh my God, that’s a great idea, we should think about this. So it’s been good to have that network of peers to rely upon.
Jill Epstein: I think we, Keith and I have both been here now, just a little over a year for me and barely a year for Keith, so some of this of course we inherited in a good way, like the Voice over IP system was a system that was purchased, it had never been activated, but it was already purchased and that was thanks to previous staff leaders who had visions that these would be good technologies for us to own. So we had some of it luckily in place when we started.
The one piece that I am really proud that we added in just recently was maybe six months ago or more we got a Zoom account, so we started to figure out there were going to be a couple of board meetings; I think it may have even been because of me being out of town for a board meeting, I can’t remember what initiated this, but we end up getting a Zoom account and so we have tried to use it — we had used it a couple of times very — just sort of like as a last resort, but we were already set up with that and we already had staff who knew how to use Zoom. So that has put us a little bit ahead of the game.
And then thanks to you Adriana and one of our good staff members who knew Teams as well, we got Teams up and running which I never even knew we had. So I love that as just a quick way to reach my staff instead of a phone call. So I used the Zoom more for big meetings, I use the Teams just internally at this point, but I feel really, again, one of the silver linings is just learning different features that I didn’t even know we had in play.
Adriana Linares: So a couple of last questions to ask both of you. I will ask Jill one and then I will ask Keith the other one.
Jill, what were the hardest lessons you learned during this process so far?
Jill Epstein: I want to say the silver lining, I have a little thing next to my — I have a little piece of paper next to another piece of paper. It’s true.
Keith Fisher: The Post-It note.
Jill Epstein: But it’s a big one, and I wrote down though, I wrote COVID-19 Silver Linings, because I am trying to see what are we learning from this that we can continue in the future.
So to me, one of the best outcomes of this where we had a flip a switch and everybody had to be remote, not just staff, but all the lawyers in San Diego had to be able to work from home, is that we are reaching so many more members now through our virtual programming than we ever would have reached through our live program.
Adriana Linares: Isn’t that amazing?
Jill Epstein: And the numbers support it, since March 16, and this was up until last week, so I don’t even have the latest numbers, but until about April 10, so in the first three weeks we had over 600 people register for events, of which 480 were unique members. And I can promise you that we would not have had 480 people through the Bar Center in three weeks if we were not in this position.
So not only are we touching more members, but I believe that we are fulfilling what our title is, which is that we are the San Diego County Bar Association and we are now being — suddenly people realize that they can be engaged with us if they live in other parts of the county besides the downtown 00:29:07, and I think that’s going to be one of the best silver linings about this is that people are going to feel comfortable with Zoom platforms, that they will be more engaged with us even if they don’t live downtown. We are doing all kinds of membership recruitment now that is having very positive reactions because we are explaining our value and now we can demonstrate it by people coming on and looking at all of our virtual programming right away.
So I feel that’s a really great silver lining in my opinion.
Adriana Linares: Very great. So Keith, what hard lessons have you learned?
Keith Fisher: So looking to the staff side of things, I think one of the things that has been very rewarding is we do have a weekly director meeting on Monday mornings, but then we have a weekly staff meeting every Friday that Jill initiated, that brings us all together on a Zoom call and we have instituted some new games and stuff that we do as a staff, but we actually get to see one another.
Jill Epstein: Themes; we have themes so people have an incentive to shower and put on some certain clothing in the right theme.
Adriana Linares: Well, some of us.
Keith Fisher: But it’s allowed us to remain unified in a certain way and to have something to look forward to every Friday. So I really — that feels good because I think the hardest thing for each and every one of us is realizing how much we miss the social aspects of our jobs and spending time with one another and asking about family members or stuff that’s going on or somebody’s pet, whatever. And so this working remote business has altered that tremendously, simply because we don’t have that same kind of touch and I don’t know, getting togetherness.
Jill Epstein: And from a practical standpoint, everything takes twice as long. I love your technology that we are talking about, but at the end of the day everything takes twice as long when you can’t just pop your head in someone’s office and say, hey, let me just run this by you, everything takes longer. So I think that’s a hard part.
And I think our members miss the connections to each other as well; the networking, there is a lot of friendships and professional relationships that don’t translate to online.
Keith Fisher: And Zoom has been amazing, but Zoom isn’t everything. I mean I have gotten to the point where I think I am losing my mind Adriana, because I don’t know if you are old enough to remember Zoom on PBS television, but I will walk through the house and be like I have got a Zoom Zoom Zoomer Zoom, remember that theme song, I have to get ready for my next meeting.
Adriana Linares: Well, I will tell you one thing as a casual observer, because I hop on those meetings when I can, what I have noticed is it’s providing a way for people in the office who don’t normally interact, because LRS sort of sticks to their world, the marketing department sticks to their world and program and events sticks to theirs, your themes that you have come up with and having people be very creative about sharing things about themselves in a very fun way is really helping everyone get to know each other. And I don’t think that happens when we are in the office altogether quite as much, because it’s a little more business as usual and that’s been really fun to watch and see.
Well, I very much appreciate your time from the both of you, I know how busy you are and everything does take longer these days to do, but I think that these are great messages for us to send to other Bar Associations, but really everything you have shared with us is relevant to almost any business that’s struggling through all this today.
Jill, do you have any idea or any sense of when you all might get to come back together in the office? Have you all discussed a reopening plan yet?
Jill Epstein: No, my favorite expression right now is don’t get ahead of your skis. So I keep trying to set target dates that are — then we just reevaluate them. So our current target date is May 1, but I will be meeting with our president this week and setting a new target. I don’t want to leave it open-ended and I don’t want to set a date too far in the future because I think that makes people feel anxious, but I also want to be realistic.
I think our courts are aiming to open late May and so that’s kind of what I envision as the next target date that we could hope to be back, at least in some way, shape, or form.
Adriana Linares: Well, I will tell you both that you have just done such a good job with this and I feel like everyone is doing their job successfully. Have you all worried — actually let me ask you one more question that I am sure people are worried about and this was a question I got from lawyers which was, how will I know if my staff is actually working while they are at home? Was that something you felt you had to worry about or figure out a way to monitor or just based on emails and work productivity, are you comfortable that everyone is doing the best that they can?
Jill Epstein: So when you have a call center like we do with significant staff on, that’s always easy to monitor, because those are calls, the same way you would monitor someone is in the office, you can see the calls coming in and output going out, so that’s already easy.
And then I think for the rest of it you just monitor, we do so many events so we have to see how many events lead, everyone pitches in, there has to be registration pages created, text created, marketing materials. So there is really nothing that’s happening that’s so long-term that it’s hard to measure, everything is happening very quickly and in the present.
So I think it’s very easy to see how hard everyone is working; it might be different in a different kind of business, because ours is so external facing and event-driven, but I feel very comfortable that there is a lot of work being done. I know I have never worked so hard and I am so exhausted every day, so I trust my colleagues are similarly situated.
Adriana Linares: Well, I want to thank you both so much for your time today and before I let you go just let everyone know how they can follow up with you or send you a message if anyone out there has questions from a Bar Association about how to do this successfully or again lessons learned, advice to give, where can they reach you Jill?
Jill Epstein: Oh sure, I am happy to do that. My email is [email protected].
Adriana Linares: What about you Keith?
Keith Fisher: Just as easy, [email protected]
Adriana Linares: That’s wonderful. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate both of you very, very much.
Jill Epstein: Thank you for the opportunity.
Adriana Linares: Thanks everyone for listening to New Solo on the Legal Talk Network. If you like what you have heard today, we would love for you to subscribe, give us a good rating and review on iTunes.
We will see you next time and remember, you are not alone, you are a new solo.
Outro: Thanks for listening to New Solo with host Adriana Linares. Tune in again to learn more about how to successfully run your new practice, solo, here on Legal Talk Network.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
New Solo covers a diverse range of topics including transitioning from law firm to solo practice, law practice management, and more.
David Holmes shares insights from his personal experiences as a law firm leader.
Jill Epstein and Keith Fisher share insights on how they transitioned the San Diego County Bar Association to work remotely.
Adriana Linares and Brett Burney offer tips and recommendations for remote work tools and services.
David Holmes, Henry Herrman, and Greg Lambert offer guidance for establishing remote legal practice.
Ernie Svenson discusses how his work with attorneys helps them use their time better and get more meaningful clients.
Early blockchain co-inventor Scortt Stornetta and IBM’s Shawnna Hoffman discuss the past, present, and future of blockchain. Learn how this technology is already impacting...