I recently received an email from the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) – a body elected by attorneys, whose purpose in part is to seek the interests of all attorneys.
This email advised lawyers that by letter dated May 30, 2021 it wrote to the Minister of Health to request an allocation of vaccines on behalf of members of LATT.
LATT explained this request was made due to the fact that members (lawyers) provided an essential service and interact with members of the public and their clients and, as such, have an increased risk of exposure to Covid-19 in the performance of their functions.
I must add that not only do we have an increased risk of exposure, but in providing an essential service, we have the potential to pass on the virus to our clients. Many attorneys have either voluntarily closed their offices and are working from home if they can or have scaled back their practice to try to minimise spread of the virus. Working from home means we can only interact with clients who have access to and are literate with computerised technology. This means having a computer or smart phone, an internet connection, an email account, knowing how to send and receive emails and texts, having a WhatsApp account, knowing how to Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp chat, having access to online banking, knowing how to make online payments etc.
The younger generations I’ve found to be quite conversant with today’s technology, but our elderly clients are frequently not so inclined. What this means is that we generally cannot conduct business with our elderly clients unless we see each other face to face.
Everyone knows by now that elderly persons are in the high-risk category of persons who may contract the Covid-19 virus and die from it. Our elderly clients usually have very pressing matters that demand immediate attention. The available vaccines, as far as I understand it, are meant to provide a layer of protection in that while we may still contract the virus, it reduces or eliminates the possibility of us dying from it and reduces the virus’s ability to spread to persons we come in contact with.
Returning to LATT’s email, the response from the Ministry of Health was, and I quote:
“We [LATT] followed up on the request and were made to understand that LATT members are not prioritised as front line at this time but we may be considered in the near future. In this regard we shall continue to follow up with the Ministry of Health.”
What I understand this to mean is that even though legal services have been categorised by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago as an essential service ever since public health measures were taken in March 2020, lawyers are not considered essential enough to be allotted vaccines this month. Without being vaccinated, if we proceed to see face to face eg., the said elderly high-risk but non-computer literate clients, we risk spreading the virus to them with the attendant consequences. Perhaps legal work is not as essential as we have been made to believe…
So be forewarned, if you encounter problems accessing an attorney-at-law to assist you with your legal work in the foreseeable future, this may be part of the reason why. Be safe T&T.
Copyright © 2021 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C is a Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.
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