There is growing excitement around the prospect of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Two vaccines are currently being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer was approved Friday and Moderna will be reviewed this week. States are eagerly tackling distribution plans - debating the most effective way to get vaccines out. Those plans start with the vaccination being made available to those highest at risk, eventually trickling down to be available to the general public.
The vaccine is the solution that many have been waiting on to curb the pandemic. When there is a high enough percent of the population vaccinated against COVID-19, it is anticipated that normal life will resume. Distribution, however, will take time. ABC Legal will continue taking precautionary efforts to limit transmission of the virus and keep customers, process servers and the public in general safe. Below are some of the processes and procedures we will adhere to as we keep our communities’ general welfare top-of-mind.
Adjusting as New Regulations Arise
California, Ohio and Puerto Rico have issued mandatory stay-at-home orders. Five states have implemented advisory stay-at-home orders. While cities and states are implementing these orders, ABC Legal will continue to operate, with strict safety guidelines. ABC Legal Services falls into the “Transportation and Logistics” sector. This sector specifically exempts the following services: “Postal, parcel, courier, last-mile delivery, and shipping workers, to include private companies who accept, process, transport, and deliver information and goods.”
As we did during the original shelter-in-place orders, we are reaching out to state and local governments to ensure we are operating in full compliance with their regulations, confirming additional exemptions where necessary. In a webinar on the “new normal” in the legal industry, Alexander Theoharis, General Counsel, elaborates on the outreach required early this year to ensure that the company is operating within regulations, “We applied for exemptions or clarifications with more than 100 different government bodies. We didn't want to be serving a single document that was going to put our customers at risk.” It was but a small step in the journey undertaken at ABC Legal to maintain operations with the public safety in mind.
“We have maintained our COVID-19 Safe Service Procedures to reduce the chance of transmission and to keep our workforce and the public healthy. We intentionally redesigned our practices earlier this year to be able to continue operating safely and at normal capacity even in hotspot areas.”
- Alexander Theoharis, General Counsel
Operating Under CDC Guidelines
Like other companies operating at this time, the safety and health of our internal employees is an area of concern. We have implemented protocols for social distancing, mandatory mask-wearing and frequent hand washing for employees in the office. Employees at-risk or with health symptoms work entirely remotely. We continue to monitor the situation, perform hazard assessments and conduct health checks in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
ABC Legal Services has been vigilant in its support of its employees throughout the pandemic. Joe Canfield, Head of Human Resources outlines a quick summary of the steps taken by the team at ABC Legal to get - and stay - ahead of the pandemic.
“In February as the pandemic first hit the United States, ABC introduced Incidental Sick Leave - a new paid leave outside of PTO so that employees were incentivized to stay home and not come in to work. In early March, prior to state shut down orders, we began the process of moving our workforce to home offices. When states began to shut down, ABC contacted over 200 state agencies to ensure we were considered an essential business. We shipped PPE to over 2000 process servers. We maintained at least 6 feet distance in the building, created mandatory protocols, and invested heavily in masks. We supply our employees with either cloth masks or KN95 masks. We strongly encourage every employee to quarantine if sick with full compensation to ensure no employee feels compelled to be in the office.”
- Joe Canfield, Head of Human Resources
Employees are encouraged to reach out to HR with any COVID-related concerns. In an email to this fall, Canfield reminded employees that “We are all citizens of the ABC community.” and that at this time especially, “We need to be looking out for each other.”
Maintaining Increased Protections for Our Process Servers
E-filing and video conferencing have become highly popular alternatives to previously in-person legal experiences. Process servers on the other hand, operate in a delicate space. Service of process is one of the few areas in the legal industry for which there is not an adequate digital replacement or counterpart to fall back on. Delivering legal documents requires process servers to interact, albeit limitedly, with the defendants on a case.
Last spring, we temporarily suspended operations in order to establish processes and implement procedures to keep our process servers and the people they interact with safe. Our COVID-19 Safety Protocols, enacted upon reopening have become the gold standard for safety precautions in the industry.
“ABC Legal has taken every step to establish a safe and reliable return to service from the Covid-19 pandemic, and is seen as creating the best Covid-19 safety standard for the industry. This means you can count on ABC Legal to provide a process server who will prioritize health and safety for all parties involved, as well as safeguarding the liability of our customers.”
- Sascha Mehlhase, VP of Product
We continue to follow these standards daily, with mask-wearing and social distancing at the core of the protocol. We have taken steps to ensure that these protocols are not a burden to our process servers, providing equipment to ensure process servers had access to these supplies even when there were shortages in their local area. All of our process servers received personal protective equipment (PPE) including N-95 masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and protective document distribution materials.
A Continual Response
ABC Legal is continually assessing the risks and concerns of operating during the pandemic. In addition to internal communications with our staff and clients, we have covered our response on our blog extensively.
- Why ABC Legal Decided To Stop Serving Process During The Covid-19 Pandemic
- When & How To Safely Resume Serving Legal Process
- Official Approval of Guidelines
- ABC Legal’s Safe Service Procedures & Restart Roadmap
- Assembling And Delivering 2,000 Process Server Safety Kits
- How To Find And Manage Jobs Suspended During Covid-19
- Safely Serving In 5 States, 11 More Opening Soon
- Client Protection Against Premature Service
- Safe Service Procedures Deployed In 16 States
- Open For Service In 47 States
- ABC Legal Mitigates Risk And Liability With Our Pandemic Response Plan
- ABC Legal’s Ongoing Response To Covid-19 And Phased Reopening
- Find Out Why ABC Legal’s Service Practices Were Cited As Gold Standard
- Summer Is Covid-19 Time: ABC Legal's Response To The Ongoing Pandemic
- ABC Legal's Covid Story In Numbers
- Nothing Normal About Getting Back to Normal
As we round out 2020 and move into 2021, we hope to continue to provide the best service possible while maintaining procedures to ensure the health and safety of our employees, process servers, and the people they come into contact with. For more information about our ongoing response, subscribe to the blog or follow us on your favorite social media channel. For a snapshot of our processes visit our COVID-19 response page on our website.
We are all in this together and we know that these are strange times in the legal industry. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can help you and your team move forward.
About ABC Legal Services
ABC Legal is the nation’s leading service of process and court filing company and is the official process server to the U.S. Department of Justice. Docketly is a subsidiary of ABC Legal, providing appearance counsel on a digital, custom-built platform that smoothly integrates with our applications and services. ABC Legal’s applications are cloud-based and compatible for use on desktop, browser, and smartphones. Our solutions and digital approach ensure process server partners, law firm customers, and their clients save valuable time and resources when serving legal notices safely and with maximum compliance, control, and transparency. ABC Legal is based in Seattle, WA, with more than 2,000 process servers throughout the U.S., as well as internationally in more than 75 countries. To learn more about ABC Legal, our solutions, and subsidiary company Docketly, visit www.abclegal.com.