On April 8, 2020, the Agricultural Section hosted the first in a new series of MSBA-sponsored “CoffeeTalks,” designed to offer each MSBA section as a way to keep its members current and connected during a period of imposed physical isolation. Participants were encouraged to enjoy their morning beverage of choice while listening to MSBA staff, Section Chair Sarah Everhart, and Chair-Elect Corrine Pouliquen discuss COVID-related developments relevant to their practice area and to the profession generally.
MSBA Executive Director Victor Velazquez opened the discussion with a recap of MSBA efforts to address attorney concerns and client needs in these trying times. He reported on the ongoing communications with the Judiciary and the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel, which have yielded answers to more than 150 discrete questions raised by my membership and passed on to representatives of the judicial and executive branches. The newest questions and answers are available here (and older sets here). A comprehensive listing of COVID related MSBA activities and information, are available for review here.
Direct communications with representatives of the Bar, the courts, law schools and the business community are ongoing, as is the production of webinars and other virtual learning programs. These programs have welcomed more than 1,400 live participants to date, and are available for review on demand here. You may also view on-demand webinars on MSBA’s YouTube Channel. Programs have already been produced by the Solo & Small Firm Practice, ADR, Estates & Trusts, Elder Law, and Tax Sections, and several more are scheduled to take place in the coming days and weeks.
Mr. Velazquez and MSBA Director of Learning Andrea Terry announced that as a service to the legal community during the emergency, the MSBA will make available, on demand and free of charge, more than 150 courses from its on-line library. Likewise, the next edition of the Maryland Bar Journal, which due to current conditions will be published in digital form only, will be publicly available to all Maryland legal professionals, including those that are not current MSBA members.
Lawyer Assistance Program Director Lisa Caplan offered updates on health and wellness programming accessible through the MSBA’s main COVID-19 webpage. She reminded everyone that the program is not limited to issues relating to substance abuse, and that the Lawyer Assistance Program can offer support locally for any lawyer, judge, or law student in need of a little help while experiencing the anxiety and stress induced by these difficult days.
Ms. Everhart and MSBA Sections Advisor Doris Barnes discussed the upcoming publication of the Agriculture Section Legal Resource Directory, which provides attorney contact information and other resources for distribution to 5,000 farmers and agricultural concerns. Ms. Everhart reported that this publication, produced in hard-copy for those in rural areas or who otherwise are without ready access to reliable internet service, has been well-received by this community, which is pleased to learn about lawyers who understand their needs.