I hope this message finds you and your families healthy and coping well with our unprecedented new reality. Each of us has unique challenges we must face and overcome. I wish all of you strength and serenity as you navigate these difficult times.

At MCBA, we have been busy since the shelter-in-place orders took effect. Because we cannot come together in person and experience the camaraderie and community that we value, MCBA is working hard on virtual options to keep our members engaged and informed. I would like to share with you some of the ways we are continuing to connect. As always, you can visit our website at www.marinbar.org to learn about and register for our current programs.

Our first task was to select a platform for virtual meetings. We are using Zoom, which allows you to attend meetings without requiring you to have an account or to install an app, although you can do both if you want. For those of you who have heard about “Zoombombing” in the news—trolls and hackers disrupting virtual meetings—we are taking measures to help ensure this does not happen. To help with this, please do not share meeting links or login information. As with most things virus-related, procedures may change over time. Be assured that each time you register for a meeting, we will ensure that you get the information you need to participate.

Our sections and committees are hard at work to continue to bring you helpful programs. By the time you read this, we will have had several events to help you adjust to the challenges of our new working environment. The Real Property Section hosted our very first virtual event on March 26. Forty-one online attendees learned how COVID-19 may affect their real estate and business practices.

Our newly formed Litigation Section hosted a webinar on April 8 entitled, “Tips for Conducting a Successful Remote Deposition.” Conducting depositions virtually is a valuable tool for any litigator to keep your cases moving towards resolution and the program walked participants through the basics of setting up and conducting virtual depositions, including the use of documents and other evidence.

The Estate Planning Section’s monthly mentor group has already moved online, holding its April 2nd meeting via Zoom to discuss challenges like notarizing and witnessing documents in the era of social distancing.

Our Pro Bono Committee will be assisting the Marin community at large by hosting a “call-in phone bank” where members of the public can pose questions to a volunteer lawyer about SBA financing loans, CARES Act issues, and commercial and residential leases. The first training for members to participate in this pro bono program is the publication date of this message. If you’ve missed it, we hope there is enough interest to offer a second training—please let us know.

In this time of isolation at home, we may acutely feel the lack of MCBA’s social component in keeping us connected and engaged with our friends and colleagues. To that end, on April 10 at 4:30, we will host our first “Quarantini Happy Hour.” Please join in via Zoom and socialize with your colleagues while sharing your shelter-at-home stories and your good humor! Sign up through MCBA’s events page the same way you do for all our programs.

Please check MCBA’s website regularly for new programs. The Labor and Employment Section has just announced a webinar for Tuesday, April 14 at 1:00 addressing the numerous employment issues created by the virus.

Another new way to stay connected is via opt-in email listservs for each of our sections. MCBA has just established listservs for each individual section through the vendor Groupvine. Each listserv allows you to email the other members of your section who have opted in. This will allow you to communicate with MCBA members in your practice areas to help share information, something especially needed in this time of rapidly developing changes. When you receive your invitation to join, I encourage you to sign up in order to facilitate group conversations within your practice areas.

Also in the works is our next general membership meeting, which will be a virtual Town Hall presentation with Presiding Judge Andrew Sweet and Associate Presiding Judge James Chou to update our members on the status of court operations and what we may expect once the court reopens. I will interview Judges Sweet and Chou and allow time for member questions.

Looking down the line to the eventual reopening of the Court, currently scheduled for June 1, we plan to put in place a new ADR program to help resolve cases that have been on hold during the closure. We hope to put together a panel of volunteer mediators and trained counsel to conduct several robust “settlement days” in order to minimize the inevitable backlog that will occur once the Court reopens. Please email me directly if you would like to be a part of this upcoming project.

These are challenging and unprecedented times. Many of us are struggling with trying to work at home, educate and otherwise occupy our children, and maintain our health and well-being. It isn’t easy. This new reality will be with us for some time and will almost certainly shift over time. The Bay Area is doing an excellent job of “flattening the curve.” Social distancing rules will likely be relaxed before we have a vaccine but no one yet knows how, when, or to what degree. MCBA is here to be a resource for information, ideas and collegiality. We will get through this, and we will do it better together.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected.