Hon. Glenn A. Norton
BAMSL President, 2020-21
Of Counsel, Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch, L.C.
Mediator, Special Master, Alaris
Originally published in the November 2020 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
Now that we are in November, the holiday season is suddenly upon us. This strange and different year leads us to what will be strange and different holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving will be here soon, followed by all of the wonderful end-of-year holidays. The question for a lot of families is whether we get together like we always have, or do we change our way of celebrating?
This year has brought so many tough challenges to our work, school and personal lives. We have seen the legal industry change and adapt. Some of these changes have been for the better, and may stick around when the pandemic relents. Some of the changes, though, cannot go away soon enough. The legal industry seems to be adapting well, with motions, some bench trials, mediations and other proceedings being held virtually. But our profession always has and always will thrive on the face-to-face component. Whether it is networking, taking a client to lunch, or teaching and mentoring a new lawyer, the virtual world simply cannot do the trick.
Some of us have taken more risks than others. Whether you have been getting together with friends and family is a personal choice, and we all crave those face-to-face, in-person interactions. I know some lawyers who have continued to travel for work, some flying two or three times a week. Others, like me, have chosen to remain at a distance, attending BAMSL events and meetings virtually while continuing my duties as president.
BAMSL has continued to operate virtually, with CLEs, a wonderful Bench & Bar conference and Rendezvous on the Roof. The first true in-person event since March was held on Oct. 2 for a revised Law Day, which honored our 2019-20 award winners for their volunteer service. The event was held outside, with everyone remaining socially distanced and required to wear masks.
Unfortunately, one of our favorite parties, the annual BAMSL Member Holiday Party will be cancelled this year. But we still are hosting an in-person, drive-through Motion for Kids Holiday Party on Dec. 5 so that children can have some semblance of a holiday celebration.
When this all started, most assumed, or at least hoped, that the pandemic would be gone well before the holiday season. At one point, we even had our fingers crossed that the summer might be “saved.” Yet, eight months later, we find ourselves with seemingly no end or return to “normal” in sight. These upcoming holidays will offer new challenges and new temptations. How do we not get together with family, children and grandchildren? But just because the calendar says it is the fourth Thursday in November does not mean the pandemic will be taking a break. The risks will still be the same.
So, what can we as families do for the holidays? There is always what seems to be the answer throughout this pandemic, the virtual celebration on Zoom. There also is the possibility of a celebration where everyone wears their masks. But it will be impossible to enjoy the necessary eating and drinking while wearing my mask. An outside, socially-distanced, holiday gathering would be wonderful—if there was any way to get the weather to cooperate.
It seems we must all be guided by two main goals. First, we must do our best to make sure the children have a meaningful holiday. With the changes that have already affected their lives, let’s not make the holiday season another disappointment for them. But the second goal is one that can have even longer lasting negative effects if we fail. That is to keep everyone safe and not have a COVID-19 breakout among the people we care about the most.
Which is worse? An abbreviated or changed holiday gathering that we can all hopefully forget about very soon, or ignoring the risks and possibly allowing sickness, or worse, that can never be forgotten?
Forgive me if you think I am being too “preachy.” You might be glad to know my presidency is half way over. Above all, stay safe and enjoy your time with family and friends as you think best. Until we can safely and regularly meet in person again, keep your distance.