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Published 28th April 2020 | Coronavirus

Are Solicitors Key Workers?

During the current COVID-19 crisis, it can be tricky to know who is considered a key worker and who isn’t and therefore which services you can access. So, are Solicitors key workers?

There has been particular confusion around whether solicitors are considered key workers or not. So, we’re here to clear this up for you.

What is a key worker?

A ‘key worker’ has been defined by the government as those in roles that are essential to keeping the country running during the current crisis and are therefore permitted to leave their home for work and send their children to school to be cared for.

Indeed, the government confirmed that keeping the justice system running during this time is crucial. Therefore legal practitioners are essential to achieve this.

However, the Department for Education announced that those ‘essential to the running of the justice system’ would, in some circumstances, be recognised as key workers – and so not all legal practitioners fall under the key worker category.

Which lawyers are considered a key worker?

To clear up this grey area, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) issued further guidance in late March. The people that fall under the key worker category include:

  • Advocates, including solicitors, are required to appear before a court or tribunal either remotely or in-person, including prosecutors;
  • Other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice, including criminal defence 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 who advise people living in institutions or are deprived of their liberty

Therefore, only solicitors involved in court and tribunal hearings as well as those advising people deprived of their liberty or on executing Wills, are classified as key workers.

What about solicitors who carry out the outlined essential services intermittently?

The MoJ also highlights that some legal practitioners will only occasionally fall into the key worker category if they need to provide advice or attend a hearing for an urgent matter relating to the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults or for a matter relating to public safety.

Bar Council Chair, Amanda Pinto QC, said solicitors: “should decide for themselves whether they fall within the category of ‘key worker’ and if so, whether they can keep their children at home or need to send them to school.

“As the short government guidance states, it may be that you don’t fall into the category of key worker all the time, but there comes a point when you do because of a change in workload.

We appreciate the very considerable challenges you (solicitors) face and the changes you are all making to keep the justice system operating as best it can.”

For this reason, solicitors are expected to decide for themselves whether they fall within the categories outlined and should aim to keep children at home, where possible.

Law firms however, are able to run as usual for legal matters other than those outlined above so long as they do so remotely and are following the government guidance on social distancing.

Here at Osborne Morris & Morgan, we are still here for you as our staff are working safely from home. You can still get in touch with us directly to discuss your needs. Aside from exceptional circumstances, in accordance with government guidance, all of our meetings are taking place via Zoom or over the telephone.

To arrange a call with one of our team members or for anything else, please feel free to contact us either by phone on 01525 378177, email via info@ommlaw.co.uk, or online – where our teams are ready to help you.

We wish you all well during these challenging times.

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Osborne Morris & Morgan is an award-winning firm of Bedfordshire solicitors with offices in Leighton Buzzard and Milton Keynes, servicing clients in the surrounding area and nationwide.

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