As states and other jurisdictions continue to restrict the movement of residents in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions have arisen regarding which workers will be deemed "essential" and therefore exempt from applicable "stay-at-home" orders. In a letter issued on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Judy Perry Martinez, the President of the American Bar Association ("ABA"), wrote to Christopher Krebs, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency ("CISA")—the agency which has promulgated guidance to help state and local jurisdictions identify essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19 response efforts—and requested that the federal government recognize legal services as "essential."
In the letter, Ms. Martinez Ms. Martinez explained that legal professionals "can help Americans as they address unexpected challenges and solve problems surfacing in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus." The letter also stated that, while some lawyers can work from home, others may need to meet with clients or attend court hearings in person in order to provide legal services.
The letter noted that some states, including California, Indiana, and Illinois, have incorporated legal and professional services into their definition of essential services. However, other jurisdictions have not included legal services as essential. The letter concluded by requesting that, if CISA recommends a national "stay-at-home" order, it include legal services in any definition of "essential services."
March 26, 2020
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