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Brooklyn Bar Association CLE focuses on lawyers’ well-being during COVID-19 pandemic

May 11, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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In times of high stress many people turn to lawyers. Unfortunately, lawyers are so often used to being providing support that they don’t often find help when they themselves are in trouble.

The Brooklyn Bar Association wants lawyers to know that there are resources out for support, especially in the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic. To spread the word, it held a continuing legal education seminar with retired Justice Sarah Krauss.

“We need to find ways to have discussions more openly with authenticity, bravery and vulnerability because the more we are well, the better we practice, the better lawyers we are, and the better we are at meeting our obligations under the public trust,” said attorney Libby Coreno, chair of the NYS Bar Association’s Attorney Well-Being Task Force.

Justice Krauss moderated the CLE panel entitled, “Progress Not Perfection: Tips and Tricks for Practicing During a Pandemic,” that was live streamed via Zoom to BBA members on Wednesday, April 29.

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Justice Krauss, co-chair of the BBA’s Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee, was joined by panelists — John Urban, the other co-chair of the BBA’s Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee; Meredith Heller, the past chair of the NYC Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility Committee and a member of the Lawyers Assistance Program Committee; and Coreno.

Online CLEs have been popular at the Brooklyn Bar Association. Nearly 250 attorneys were in attendance for its Lawyers Helping Lawyers CLE on Wednesday, April 29.

The discussion, which was one of the best-attended CLEs the Brooklyn Bar Association has had in some time, with 249 people in attendance, lasted approximately one hour as Judge Krauss introduced each speaker and went over some of the resources available to attorneys.

Coreno talked about the Attorney Wellness Initiative, and gave some advice to ensure attorneys are ethically practicing while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its many related issues.

Heller talked about how the dangers that the legal community is facing now are especially pronounced in solo practitioners and small firms.

“We’re seeing a lot of mental health issues with solos and small firms,” Heller said. “Small firms often have very small margins to begin with. We’re operating without a net, and what’s happening now is really demonstrating how dangerous it can be.”

Urban then shared some particulars for effective communication with other attorneys, the courts and clients. He also talked about retainers, getting out of them, and other special issues related to the new normal.

The Brooklyn Bar Association’s next live streaming CLE, “Resume Building and Interview Skills,” will be held on Monday, May 18 at 1 p.m. It will be presented by Andrea Bonina, a past president of the BBA; Richard Klass, the BBA’s second vice president; and attorney David Sarnoff. It will be worth two CLE credits.

It will hold another one at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, entitled “Ethics 101: What All Lawyers Need to Know” with Bonina; Anthony Vaughn, the BBA’s treasurer; Angelicque Moreno, president of the Academy of Trial Lawyers; and Michael Farkas, past president of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association. That program will also be worth two credits.

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