Greetings Fellow Pandemic Travelers,

I hope everyone is staying physically and mentally healthy as all of us navigate this new terrain of life and practice. The March issue of the Marin Lawyer about law practice management came out just a few days before…we all had to learn how to manage our practices in new and unexpected ways. As we and MCBA adapt to a more virtual practice, the Marin Lawyer is looking towards its June issue, which has a theme of the environment.

Well, viruses are certainly part of the environment and we would like to devote a significant part of the issue to the novel coronavirus. While we aim to bring you articles that can help you in your practice, the changes in our daily lives from the virus raise many legal questions about broad societal issues that most of us have never encountered in the real world. We may not need to answer them in our practices or to go about our daily lives but they may still have an impact and I think raise fascinating legal issues.

We would like to bring you articles that explore some of these issues. But the “never encountered in the real world” aspect means that not very many people know the law in many of the areas that are coming up. If you or anyone you know would like to write about a legal issue the pandemic is raising, please email me. We are looking for authors to write overviews or primers on the law applicable to some of the new aspects of our lives. Here are just a few topics that have occurred to me that I would love to be educated on beyond the nitty-gritty of new paid sick leave or notarizing documents during shelter-in-place:

  • What laws regulate when and how we hold elections, including the presidential election. Who has the power to move the presidential election and what are the parameters for doing so?
  • What rights do states (or cities or towns) have to regulate travel? Can they bar entry to some and not others? Can they tell their police to pull over cars with certain license plates for quarantine? Can grocery stores ban out-of-state customers (see Griffin’s in Escalante, Utah)?
  • What is a “national emergency”? What powers does it give what governments? What laws would have to be changed to allow the federal government to use the military to enforce laws? Could “martial law” happen here?
  • What are the extent of state and local government powers in a pandemic? What are the constraints on how resources are allocated? Can we be “drafted” to do critical work?
  • What are the legal profession’s obligations when the courts are not operating normally? What ethical obligations do we have to prepare for possibilities like a pandemic?
  • What lessons are to be learned from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic? How did it influence the laws we have today? Several books have come out in the last few years on the 1918 pandemic because of its 100th anniversary. Would anyone like to review one and maybe answer some of these questions?

This list could obviously be much longer. Many legal questions we never imagined would be practical ones now are. Please help us educate ourselves by writing about any of these topics or others you are interested in. Email or call me or anyone on the board about contributing. You can reach me at or 415.673.5081.

Thank you! Stay safe, stay healthy and stay connected.