Lawyers Tackle Covid-19: Jennifer Selendy & David Elsberg

The novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, are having an unprecedented impact on businesses and individuals, and law firms are doubling down to provide counsel and maintain the operation of their firms. In this series we're asking key questions of attorneys about how this global pandemic is affecting the work they do.

Jennifer Selendy and David Elsberg are founders and co-managing partners at Selendy & Gay.

Lawdragon: How has the novel coronavirus impacted your practice?

David Elsberg: No firm is immune to the challenges presented by the coronavirus, but we have taken steps to protect our firm against the financial and cultural impacts of remote work. From day one of our operations, we’ve been conservative fiscally, and invested in a state-of-the-art technology infrastructure which adapts well to this environment.

Jennifer Selendy: Where we practice may have shifted, but we remain fully capable of delivering extraordinary legal services to our clients in these challenging times, and have been fortunate to file a number of new cases, take depositions, continue our recruiting efforts, and meet virtually as teams with minimal disruptions.

DE: We are also preparing for a trial that will be conducted by videoconference tools.

LD: What is your firm doing to help the community during this time of crisis?

JS: Maintaining our tight-knit, collaborative culture is very important as we all face the disruption and dislocation of working remotely. One of the things that continues to bring us together, beyond the commercial cases we’re handling, is our pro bono and public interest work. This commitment to the public good is what drew so many of us to create the firm in the first place. We are devoting significant time and resources to help women and families living in poverty in New York City, public servants fighting for student loan forgiveness, environmental advocacy groups, and many others.

LD: How has your firm adjusted operations during this time?

DE: Out of an abundance of caution for our employees’ health and safety, we transitioned to a remote office before Governor Cuomo’s mandate. All of our systems were designed to be entirely cloud-based, which allows us to work flexibly and efficiently from just about anywhere. Similarly, our firm structure (which includes highly trained personnel, in-house analysts and staff attorneys) is agile and sustainable by design, which means we have not been faced with the difficult decision of having to furlough any of our staff or attorneys. The main adjustment has been using videoconferencing instead of meeting in person.

LD: What is your top piece of advice for clients in regards to this pandemic?

JS: While the Covid pandemic raises some unprecedented challenges, there are steps we can take to mitigate the disruption and the resultant toll on business.

Most of our clients experienced the Great Recession, and we are proud to have counseled many of them through that difficult period. Our advice to clients today is: Proactively identify and monitor reliable information sources relevant to your business, and assemble a group of cross-organizational leaders who can make decisions in this rapidly changing environment. Be direct and realistic in your assessment of pain points, and to the greatest extent possible, plan ahead to address those issues. Err on the side of over-communicating with employees and clients about how Covid-related issues are being handled. And in those communications, be transparent and realistic.

Visit our Covid-19 Resource page for a round-up of legal resources regarding the novel coronavirus.