CBA Record May-June 2020
pressures, so we expect to see payment delays and other financial accommodations that are not unique to our practice area. Finally, and most unfortunately, estate planners may be seeing an influx of probate and estate administration matters. Coordi- nating these matters given court closures and often geographically dispersed family members could present logistical obstacles unlike any we’ve experienced before.
Despite academia having its world flipped upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic, a law school’s purpose and its commitment to its students remains untouched. Every law school strives to make sure its students’ needs are being met so it can prepare them to be the best attorneys they can be post-graduation. Since this pandemic hit, I’m proud to say that I have seen faculty and staff firsthand con- tinuing to keep their students’ best interests first and foremost. The three areas in which change has hit law school faculty, staff, and law students hard are classroom procedure, academic review, and employment. All over America, law school classes were forced to abruptly go online in a matter of days as campuses shut down physical premises; schools contem- plated a pass/fail option for students, and all final exams were forced to be take-home exams. And several law students have lost pre- viously secured summer employment due to hiring freezes and firms’ financial instabilities. The main procedural change has been remote classroom learning. Law schools that were prepared implemented training for faculty and staff who wanted to learn how to teach remote classes before everyone only to counter-sign as witnesses when the clients are safely back inside their homes. Another immediate challenge estate planning attorneys faced at the onset of the pandemic related to tax filings and payments. Thankfully, much of the uncer- tainty has been resolved, but for several weeks our clients were concerned about and making alternative plans for various tax items, including filing gift and income tax returns, and making tax payments. While estate planning attorneys have been busy learning about the new Illinois Trust Code (effective January 1, 2020), they also have been busy learning about how the CARES Act impacts their clients. The CARES Act affects certain clients with IRAs, clients considering charitable gifts to public charities, clients with small
went remote. Normally, this would have been something schools would ease into over the course of months or even years. However, because of the urgency of keeping students, faculty, and staff safe, most schools were forced to master and implement this skillset within a matter of days. It is impressive to see how professors swiftly moved into this new dynamic and how quickly students adapted. Spring and Summer law courses are now all online to protect the safety of students, faculty, and staff. From what I have seen, law students are competent with remote learning. However, some students are unfortunately struggling with online learning because of issues such as finances, childcare, health of the student and/or loved ones, lack of study space, poor internet access, or other issues beyond their control. Such a procedural change can affect grad- ing. Grading is always an important issue, and there is no consensus among area law schools on how to address it. Some schools have implemented a mandatory pass/fail for every law student. Other schools have no type of pass/fail. Some schools have done a hybrid so that pass/fail is optional. These decisions were likely made through a thoughtful and businesses (Paycheck Protection Program), and more. In many cases, advising clients in these areas involves coordination with other practice groups within a firm, or other advisers to the client. We are all quickly becoming experts on video con- ferencing technology. Estate planning attorneys are fortunate in many ways. The demand for estate planning services often increases during times of uncertainty. Some high net worth clients, for example, heighten their estate planning focus when the markets are depressed or volatile and they can transfer additional assets to younger generations without incurring a transfer tax. However, despite the short term increase in demand estate planning attorneys may be seeing, many of our clients are also facing financial
Elise J. McGee is a Private Client attorney at McDermott Will & Emery LLP and a member of the Execu- tive Committee of the CBA Trust Law Com- mittee.
Teaching Law School during the Covid-19 Pandemic BY KATHRYN C. LISS
deliberate process with robust discussion among the dean and faculty on what is best for students, as students are rightly the pri- mary focus of law school. Like many people, law students’ concerns about their future employment this summer and beyond are heightened, and anxiety is palpable. It’s not uncommon to hear of students’ summer associate and law clerk positions being pulled. As a result, law school career advisors seem to be more important now than at any other time of the year. These advisors are working hard connecting with students to help them through this difficult time. Unfortunately, these advisors are not economic magicians. However, they can be good listeners who can provide insightful feedback and strategic career advice. These are unprecedented times, which can call for extreme measures. However, law schools will persevere so long as they continue to put their students first.
Kathryn C. Liss is a member of the CBA Editorial Board and the executive director of DePaul University College of Law’s Schil- ler DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center and Advisor.
26 May/June 2020
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