Keeping Cases Moving in the Eighth Judicial District Court: Probate and Guardianships
By Valerie Del Grosso, Esq.
COVID-19 closures thoroughly stress-tested our business practices and systems, but we are better off for it. Here’s how our firm kept our cases moving (and our clients happy) during the COVID-19 pandemic:
For context, our firm consists of two attorneys and one paralegal with a caseload of 200 probate and guardianship matters, with a dozen estate plans in progress. Like many of our colleagues, we have new babies at home. (Their work product is questionable, but they will remain part of our team.)
Access to funds due was a higher priority than ever for our probate clients, many of whom suffered unexpected job losses. We are thankful for the quick creation of emergency protocols by the Clark County courts so that we could provide some certainty to our clients in an uncertain time. We relied heavily on electronic submissions of orders and the existing “approved list” in probate court to close and distribute estates on the regular schedule.
For our contested matters and emergency issues in guardianship cases, our paralegal worked closely with the judicial departments, clerk’s office and state agencies by phone, even securing the appearance of a state agency representative for a telephonic hearing from home.
Collegial relationships with opposing counsel got more matters off the contested list and onto the approved list, and we offered and received flexibility on deadlines to accommodate the added demands of working from home. Several of our contested matters are awaiting late June dates while the state slowly reopens.
We were happy to learn about webconferencing available through Blue Jeans, and for our contested civil matters and TROs, this technology has been an unexpected surprise. It beats parking, walking to, and walking through the courthouse, and we plan to continue using Blue Jeans for routine matters.
Across the board, this community rose to the occasion in so many helpful ways. The judges, especially, made themselves available to our practice sections to work closely on procedure and finer points on short notice. And when the going got tough, we turned to the secret society of “law mamas” hiding in plain sight in our legal community for advice and help.
Inside our firm, we incorporated simple, new tools to keep our small team on the same page while working remotely. The shutdown has given us perspective on what is essential and offered an opportunity to streamline our processes, take advantage of court technology, and ultimately make us more efficient and effective lawyers.
We do miss seeing friendly faces in the elevator line at the RJC, though.