The government announced on Sunday which legal practitioners will be classified as ’key workers’ during the coronavirus crisis - enabling some lawyers to send their children to school where absolutely necessary.
Discussions continued with justice officials last Friday after the government said key workers would be those deemed ‘essential to the running of the justice system’.
Today the Ministry of Justice provided further clarification of those legal practitioners covered within this category, focusing on the continued operation of the courts and tribunals. The categories comprise:
* Advocates (including solicitor advocates) required to appear before a court or tribunal (remotely or in person), including prosecutors;
* Other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice including duty solicitors (police station and court) and barristers, solicitors, legal executives, paralegals and others who work on imminent or ongoing court or tribunal hearings;
* Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills; and
* Solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty.
Only legal practitioners who work on the types of matters, cases and hearings on this list will be classified as a key worker.
In addition, the MoJ said some legal practitioners will intermittently fall into this category because they need to provide advice or attend a hearing for an urgent matter relating for example, to safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, or a public safety matter. For the limited time required to deliver this work, a legal practitioner will be a key worker.
The Government has stressed that children of key workers should still be looked after at home if this is possible.
According to the most recent law firm data, 61% of all solicitors have children, with 72% of this group having children of school age.
’The government has rightly acknowledged that keeping the justice system running during the current crisis is vital, and that legal practitioners are fundamental to achieving this aim,’ commented Law Society president Simon Davis.
’Last week the department for education announced that those essential to the running of the justice system would in certain circumstances be recognised as “key workers” who may ask schools to continue to take their children.’
0700 update: Following government advice issued over the weekend, the Law Society's headquarters at 113 Chancery Lane has been closed until further notice.