Providing an essential service during a pandemic

The Law Society has been in regular contact with Government representatives and heads of jurisdiction to ensure that the provision of legal services can be maintained and conducted in a safe manner amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Practice of law as an essential service

The Society has written to the Attorney-General to seek confirmation and guidance as to whether legal services will be considered an “essential service” in the event of further restrictions. The Society suggested that legal services would be required during an emergency period and that some processes that have typically involved face-to face interaction, such as verification of identity procedures, may need to be amended during an emergency period. The Society will inform Members of any response provided by the Attorney-General.
Strategies to mitigate COVID-19 impact on lawyers

The Society is seeking the views of its Special Interest Committees as to the impact of COVID-19 on legal practice and services. The Society will be raising these issues with the relevant heads of jurisdiction and the Attorney-General and will be providing suggested solutions and temporary measures (as informed by its Special Interest Committees) to ensure the profession can continue to provide legal services to the community.
Advocating for modified practices to maintain provision of legal services

The Society has sought to address a number of issues raised by Members in response to the COVID-19 emergency. These include but are not limited to, matters arising in the Magistrates Court and the increased use of technology to facilitate remote access/attendance and ensure that the justice system can continue to operate safely and effectively.
Health & safety in correctional facilities  

The Society is in regular contact with the Department of Corrections to seek updates as to prisoner health and measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities and beyond. The Society has written to the Department on a number of occasions on behalf of its Criminal Law Committee, including with suggestions as to how increased use of technology and telephone services can ensure practitioners are able to access clients safely. The Society has also written to the Minister for Correctional Services, asking him to consider the early release of low-risk prisoners in light of growing fears of a COVID-19 outbreak occurring in a correctional facility.