On March 30 2020 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an Order In Re: COVID 19(Coronavirus) Pandemic regarding serving documents, changing the Rules of Civil Procedure. That is, Rule 5 (b) which requires that service of pleadings and other papers upon an attorney” be by US Mail, has been changed by the Court. This Rule requiring delivery by mail has been suspended until further notice. Attorneys are now instructed to serve pleadings via email.
The reason for the suspension is that using the mail potentially exposes various folks to the virus and because many, if not most, attorneys are working from home and have access to email, but not the US Mail delivered to their office. The goal of the new rule is a safer and more efficient system for Civil Procedure during these difficult and trying times.
You should use this rule change as an opportunity to communicate with your lawyer. You can inform him or her of this significant rule change and request that he or she confirm with any and all opposing counsel that they have each other’s email address and that they are capable to using email on your case, between relevant parties.
What to Expect From Your Attorney Regarding Coronavirus Email Rule
Communication. Regardless of the stage of your case, you should communicate with your attorney. Staying in touch with your attorney is critical in general. It is even more critical during these difficult times. You should know what the next steps are and, going forward, what is expected of your attorney…and what your attorney expects of you.
The new Coronavirus Email Rule of Civil Procedure has specific requirements that your attorney must follow. He or she will have received the full notice from the SJC, the Massachusetts Bar Association as well as their local bar associations.
Note too, parties who are representing themselves pro se are not required to comply with the new Rule, but may elect to. They too must communicate with opposing parties regarding email service during Coronavirus.
Legal Malpractice and Civil Procedure
We have represented many victims of legal malpractice when the cause of the neglect was a misunderstanding of civil procedure by the attorney. While it may be a complicated class in law school, there is no excuse for not understanding the basic Rules of Civil Procedure by the time an attorney is representing a client in Massachusetts Courts. It’s an integral aspect of lawyering.
Did your lawyer fail to answer interrogatories? Did she fail to respond to a motion resulting in a dismissal? Was not using email the excuse? Did he move his office and neglect to inform the Court and opposing counsel? By email? Did the firm loose your file when working remotely and simply not have way to even find you to help resurrect your case? Did your attorney not understand or comply with the Coronavirus Email Rule of Civil Procedure regarding serving pleadings? Did your attorney fail to explain it to the office paralegals and other professionals working on your case?
Legal Malpractice During Coronavirus
While we hope that we wont get calls in the next few months, and years, from clients that inform that their case was neglected during the Coronavirus pandemic, we nevertheless expect that there will be attorney negligence. This new Coronavirus Email Rule is not complicated – most Boston attorneys already send a scan of each pleading via email. It’s been a common courtesy. However, until this week, it was not required.
Burns & Jain Represents Victims of Legal Malpractice
For over 30 years Attorney Neil Burns has represented victims of legal malpractice. Obviously, we have never seen anything like the Coronavirus before, however, attorneys have neglected clients’ files for a multiplicity of reasons, Coronavirus could be simply a new and upcoming reason.
Protect yourself. Contact your attorney. He or she should have voicemails forwarded during these times, email back and forth to you on a regular basis, and be able to explain the posture of your case in light of the change in circumstances.
Call Attorney Neil Burns or Attorney Roshan Jain for a free legal malpractice consultation: 617-227-7423.