June 01, 2020

In this edition of Coronavirus Q&A, a Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC partner representing people who have suffered catastrophic injuries, who also serves as an advocate for trial attorneys, discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected client intake and lobbying efforts.

Leslie M. Kroeger, a partner based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is co-chair of Cohen Milstein's complex tort litigation practice group and is the president of the Florida Justice Association. She shared her perspective as part of a series of interviews Law360 is conducting with prominent attorneys about the wide-ranging legal, regulatory and business fallout of the coronavirus crisis, which has claimed more than 100,000 American lives.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How has the crisis affected your practice?

We have had to learn to adapt as an entire office, giving everyone the ability to work from home and making sure our systems, from a technology standpoint, are capable and amenable to getting work done. It's taken a little bit more thought to keep things moving. Fortunately, everyone has adapted well so I'm pleased with how things have gone, but it's definitely been harder on everyone.

We are hoping to open [the office] soon and that's been a struggle, too — figuring out the appropriate guidelines, like how many people can we have in our space and what type of plexiglass we need. The last thing we want is for someone to get sick and for it to spread, which would cause a health crisis in our space. My practice group encompasses the entire Florida office so I've been spending a lot of admin time figuring out the right way to open, and that's a whole 'nother level of responsibility.

Has the pandemic affected your firm's client intake?

I don't think it's affected the firmwide intake. Within the Florida office we do a lot of individual cases. We handle catastrophic injuries from product defects, motor vehicle accidents and medical malpractice. We've seen a slowdown in accidents and elective surgeries, which can result in medical malpractice injuries. Those may have slowed down a bit, but for the most part our numbers are steady so we've been blessed in that regard.

We don't have clients physically coming in, but we are using telephones and Zoom and whatever the clients are comfortable with. Between Zoom, FaceTime and [Microsoft] Teams, there are plenty of ways to meet with clients. Most clients have smartphones so Zoom works just fine on that.

The only time we've had an issue connecting with someone was for a deposition. But there are vendors who will literally deliver a laptop and help set it up. We've had to use that once. But for client purposes, we haven't had any [communication] issues yet. Knock on wood.

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