By: Tiffany M. Love
2L JDi Student at Syracuse University College of Law
On March 16, 2020, I was sent home on indefinite telework status and my fifth-grade daughter entered the unchartered waters of virtual/homeschooling. As a military family on our third assignment overseas we were accustomed to rolling with the punches and adjusting to new normals. After all, “resilience” is one of the favorite buzzwords in the military community.
But this was different. And it was not always easy to keep a brave face in light of a threatening and invisible pandemic. We leaned on each other and found a way to juggle homeschooling and teleworking, alternatively retreating to our individual home offices or seeking out each other’s company. We celebrated birthdays (just us three), the end of elementary school, and Hamilton. And we were stronger for it.
As a civilian paralegal for the military, we had to re-think how we delivered legal services to the military community. We found ways to offer remote appointments and regularly reached the capacity of our email servers. We also found ways to be more efficient in delivering routine legal services by scheduling all services, creating new fillable forms, and conducting as much work as possible prior to any face-to-face meetings (complete with masks, of course). We conducted trainings and small group meetings via videoconference. We made sure our waiting room complied with social distancing regulations. I learned to be more efficient in my email communications with clients, many of whom are not legally savvy. We learned to innovate, and I think as a whole we are better for it. While some clients miss the convenience of “walk-in services,” many have appreciated how we have managed to continue to provide more efficient services when other offices were nearly completely shut down.
My daughter has been my best role model for resilience. She turned 11 just over two months ago. Her three best friends managed to throw a virtual surprise party on Google Hangouts, complete with party games and a special visit from her teacher. As an only child, friendships are incredibly important. And she has managed to remain in touch – not only with her friends here, but in Japan and the United States. While some days are undoubtedly difficult, she is often full of smiles and hope. And it gives me hope.
Even though we are in strange times and may often feel isolated, we can still find ways to connect. As a JDi student, I already feel confident in the ability of classes to be delivered remotely and to still remain a member of the SUCOL community. I am watching with interest the arguments for diploma privilege for new law school graduates. As a current paralegal and future attorney, I feel confident that with open minds and creative thinking, we can overcome many barriers and still provide quality legal services to those in need. I am hopeful that this current situation may be the impetus for innovation and growth in the legal field.