COVID-19 and No-Fault Practice: Q&A with Jordan Jones (Audio File)

Recorded on 03/31/20

Jordan Jones is a no-fault plaintiff's attorney with Michigan Auto Law in Farmington Hills. He specializes in trucking litigation and took a few minutes to talk to Max and me about how the pandemic has impacted his practice. In particular he explained how he and his firm are adjusting their practice to keep their clients' cases moving including virtual client meetings and remote video depositions.


John: Hello, this is John Swift.

Max: And this is Max Matthies.

John: We’re two of the staff attorneys at ICLE. We’re talking to other Michigan attorneys about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them and their clients.

Max: We thought it might be helpful to share how our colleagues and their firms are responding to the COVID crisis and provide some insight on how you might do the same.

Jordan: Hi, this is Jordan Jones and I am from Michigan Auto Law in Farmington Hills.

John: You’re a plaintiff’s attorney mostly, right?

Jordan: Well not mostly, 100 percent. I’m a man of the people.

John: That’s good. Well, Max and I really appreciate you talking to us today. The big thing with the shutdown, we’ve been talking to people about how you’re dealing with the court closures. And if you had any remote appearances or anything like that.

Jordan: I’m kind of answering in two parts. The way that I’m kind of staying apprised of the court closures is—obviously the courts are forwarding a lot of materials themselves—but also just leveraging my network. So, for example, on various Listservs that I’m on, I always watch those and people are great because when they get information, they circulate it around to make as many people aware as possible. So that’s how I’m sort of staying caught up to speed on it all. And then in terms of appearances, different courts are doing different things. So, for example, I have a big case in Shiawassee right now. They’re not really doing anything, but I have had some remote appearances, telephonic appearances. So it’s really touch-and-go, depends on the court. At least that’s what I’m seeing.

John: Do you have any cases actually moving forward toward trial?

Jordan: Yeah, so my understanding is all trials are off, you know, not indefinitely, but for a certain period of time. But what I am doing in a lot of my cases, we’re still able to do some discovery. So for example, I’m doing depositions by Zoom. I actually have a Zoom deposition today at two o’clock. So, yeah, we’re trying to keep the cases moving forward. You know, even though the trials may not necessarily be moving forward—because what we don’t want to happen is we come out on the other side of this, and we’re just in this big logjam. We’re just so far behind on everything and cases aren’t moving.

Max: How are your clients responding to these changes and your work-arounds?

Jordan: Very well. You know, everybody has been just super, super understanding. And this really is unprecedented. We’ve never had anything like this happen before, but clients seem to be really understanding. And we’re finding ways to make it work. What we’re doing in my office is we have a setup either—at the attorney’s election—you can have your calls forwarded directly to your cell phone or you can get the call and then the voice mail is for yourself when you can call back from your cell phone. So I’m kind of personally doing the latter. You know, I don’t mind giving clients my cell phone number, things like that. But yeah, everybody’s been really responsive. And we’re finding ways. I communicate with my clients a lot by email anyway, so that hasn’t been disrupted at all. So we’re finding that folks are understanding—a little frustrated, obviously, because cases aren’t moving but certainly they understand. This is unprecedented.

John: For the folks listening who don’t know, you’re at a pretty big firm. How many people do you have there?

Jordan: Oh, God, people? I don’t know. Probably 60 or 70—I’m not sure. I think we’re up to maybe 25 lawyers. Now we have an office in Grand Rapids. It just opened up as well. So I think we have 25 lawyers now, but don’t quote me on that. That’s above my pay grade.

John: Both offices are closed now. And everybody’s remote? How’s that been? Did you have a plan in place for this kind of thing ahead of time?

Jordan: We were kind of really big on technology anyway, and virtually everybody already had the ability to work remotely. We have a lot of folks with young families. We have some folks that live far away. We have a lady who lives out in Auburn Hills, and it’s a long drive for her every day, so she works remotely. So we were already kind of set up for that anyway. And luckily, we had a good infrastructure in place that could handle the volume. Because it’s one thing to have the remote capability, but the system has to be able to handle the stress of like 60 or 70 people all working on it at the same time, which we did. So luckily it was a pretty easy transition for us. We were kind of all ready—even before the stay at home order came out. We were already internally implementing some procedures to minimize the number of people who had to be in the office. So it was a nice easy transition. Everybody’s working remotely. We have good lines of communication set up. We do a lot of conference calls that you can just do from your cell phone, quite frankly. And then we also use Zoom meetings a lot. That’s been facilitating things. So we’re moving as smoothly as you possibly can under the circumstances, I think.

John: I want to go back to what you said before. You have a Zoom deposition coming up. How does that work? Do you just record the video conference and then have that be your record? Do you have a court reporter? How does that work?

Jordan: So for this particular one, we have a court reporter who’s going to be taking a transcript. It’s actually the depo of my client. So I’m going to be defending the deposition. And then they just have a court reporter who’s going to make a record. She’s going to swear in the witness remotely. And we’re going to proceed that way. But there are record capabilities in Zoom. And also you can time stamp it because I know under the Michigan court rules, if you’re going to do video deposition, it has to be time stamped. So you do have the capability to do that to comply with the court rule. And we’re looking at doing that, too, because, John, as you know, a lot of my practice, I do a lot of trucking work and it’s very document intensive. And Zoom is—it’s a little different. You know, I can’t just mark exhibit one, pass it to the witness, and ask him to read it, right? So we’re working on ways that we can implement documents and also record the deposition to comply with the Michigan court rules. I think we’re really, really close to getting that figured out. Of course, everything’s been a work in progress.

Max: Jordan, with the understanding that you’re at a larger firm, ICLE has been getting a lot of questions from solo and small firms about how to keep their doors open, how to keep business moving, how to pay their bills. With your book of business and your clients, do you have any recommendations for these folks on how to stay productive?

Jordan: Yeah, sure. So I think what I’ve seen some people having a lot of success with, is sort of like moving to nontraditional online marketing. And I understand that online marketing in itself is somewhat nontraditional, but when you think online marketing, you think kind of like, you know, paid advertisements and things like that. But I have a very large network of attorney friends all across the country. I have a friend in Florida right now who’s just doing marketing through her Instagram account, and basically all she’s doing is kind of through stories. She’s just pushing content through stories. None of it’s paid, none of it, nothing like that. I was talking with her and she told me she’s gotten 222 leads. And I have another friend who’s doing a lot of Twitter marketing right now. So I think, you know, honestly, John and Max, I kind of think we were heading in this direction anyway. And I think the COVID-19 just sort of accelerated the process. I know law schools are doing remote classes. And you know, we’re doing remote depositions. I think we were heading that way anyway just with technology. This has sort of accelerated that. But I think now there’s some great opportunities for marketing in the social media space because it really hasn’t been developed in the legal field. You know, I mean, we see all kinds of other industries that are generating just huge books of business, using social media, like, you know, Twitter, Instagram—not so much Facebook—but some of the newer platforms. I know TikTok is coming up right now. And that just really hasn’t been developed in the legal field. And I’m personally kind of seeing some people exploiting that and kind of turning that into business right now.

John: That is good advice. I think the legal profession kind of has a bit of a reluctance to adopt new ways of doing things sometimes.

Jordan: Absolutely. Yeah. So it’s weird. It’s like for whatever reason we’re resistant to technology for some reason. For example, like court hearings. Yeah. I don’t see why court hearings shouldn’t be done remotely. I mean, it doesn’t make sense to drive. If you have a hearing, I don’t know, say Shiawassee County or something, it’s like an hour and a half, three-hour round trip. Why wouldn’t you do that remotely, right? So I think there’s some great opportunities for us right now to be found. The silver lining, I suppose.

John: Yeah and that really is a great outlook. Appreciate that.

Jordan: Yeah, for sure.

John: Well, Jordan, thank you for your time. We’ll wrap it up there and you take care of yourself and stay healthy and all that.

Jordan: Thanks, you guys, too. Thanks for reaching out. It’s a pleasure speaking with you guys, as always.

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