Ten Things: Dealing with a Pandemic (Yes, I am Talking About the Coronavirus)

Greetings from 35,000 feet!  Well, at least that is where I was when I started this post.  It was not my intention to write about the Coronavirus but – after a vodka soda and a little reflection – my intended topic just didn’t seem as important given the “new normal” of March 2020.  I usually try to stay away from topical issues because they grow stale quickly.  The only exception I have made to this was when the Safe Harbor program was invalidated.[1]  That said, I have written about Crisis Management 101 and What to Do When Bad Things Happen.  I was thinking about both of those posts after someone asked me earlier in the day what I would do if I were an in-house lawyer dealing with the virus.  I mentioned a few things that came right to mind and then a little later I started jotting a few more down on a napkin (yes, that’s a real thing).  Pretty soon, a new “Ten Things” post was born.  I’d like to say that, as an experienced general counsel, I would have caught on to the magnitude of the Coronavirus problem way back when and been proactive weeks ago in helping organize a response (both legal and business).  But, like many, when I first heard about the virus back in January I kind of shrugged my shoulders and thought “feels like another H1N1-type deal.”[2]  I was wrong.  Mostly about how people around the world would respond (and it truly feels like we have fallen Through the Looking Glass this past week).  Still, once things started coming apart, I suspect I would have had some pretty strong ideas on what the legal team should be doing just like I would during any health crisis.  This edition of “Ten Things” lays out – straight from the napkin – what I think in-house lawyers should be (and probably are) doing during a pandemic outbreak like COVID-19: