“How will courts operate when they reopen?”

Julia Grace Benedict, 22, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

My job as a paralegal in a litigation firm went remote a couple of months ago as here in Malaysia we have been on a proper lockdown since March 18. It hasn’t been particularly difficult to work from home; the real issue is that we haven’t had that much to do because all courts are closed.

Most cases and appeals have been delayed. Some cases have been carried online, but that was only at the High Court and Court of Appeal levels, rather than at the higher, Federal Court level. This huge backlog of cases means that whenever courts reopen, there is going to be a lot of work to do: we’ll have to catch up on the old cases and also deal with new ones. I don’t know whether backlog cases will have the priority and cases scheduled for after the lockdown will be postponed.

I also wonder how courts are going to practice social distancing. They haven’t mentioned anything so far. It might be tricky as in the cases I have dealt with there were always three lawyers per client — one lawyer advocating and two supporting — sitting next to each other. So maybe the two supporting lawyers will sit behind, but then the lawyer advocating would have to turn around every time they need a supporting document during their speech. I think it can be done but I’m not sure of how so.

I am supposed to move to London in September to do my postgraduate studies in order to get my bar certification. Will it be online? They haven’t mentioned anything so far — I think the UK is a bit all over the place right now. I know some people who are currently finishing their training remotely, so it is definitely doable, but I don’t think it’s very effective when it comes to advocacy training etc. We’ll see.

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