A Message to Our Readers
The June-July issue of the ABA Journal you’re reading now marks the second edition of the magazine you’ve received since the COVID-19 crisis forced fundamental changes to American society.
Since the disease first became an issue, and particularly since the pandemic escalated in March, the Journal staff has produced significant coverage of the crisis at ABAJournal.com. As the virus continued to force changes to the way attorneys practice law, how courts hold proceedings and how clients access legal services, our staff has been there to provide uninterrupted coverage on our digital platforms, just as we worked to ensure you would be holding this magazine right now.
Looking back to when the ABA Journal staff wrapped up production on the April-May magazine, it was a different world.
The COVID-19 pandemic already was an international crisis, and the disease already had started to take root in the United States, but life for many Americans had yet to be upended the way it has been for the last few months. It was March 12, and most of the Journal staff was working out of our office in Chicago. We had sent the final pages to our printer in Wisconsin and were proud of the product that soon would be delivered to ABA members.
A fast-moving story
Because of the deadlines required to produce the publication, the vast majority of material for the magazine had been submitted more than a month earlier. Most of the pieces had been in the works for weeks, if not months, before that. Indeed, when most of the April-May stories were being created, COVID-19 had yet to become widespread front-page news.
But in the course of the magazine’s production, the situation began to escalate, and we considered how to address it in print. We soon realized the crisis was evolving so quickly that any coverage we’d try to provide in the magazine surely would be outdated by the time it arrived in your mailbox near the end of March. What we didn’t know was how dramatic that evolution would be.
Within days of wrapping up the April-May issue, all of us were working remotely. All schools and many businesses were closed, and we were ordered to shelter in place.
But the societal impacts were more significant. The number of coronavirus cases began to rise, as did the numbers of those who tragically lost their lives to the disease. By now, many of us know someone who’s been struck ill by the virus. And many of us know someone who’s lost their life to it. If not, I pray that continues, just as I pray for the continued health and safety of all my co-workers, our members, your families, staffs and friends.
Even though our nation has been struggling with the crisis for months, it’s too early to know what lasting effects it will have on our society. How many people will fall ill—and how many lives will be lost—are questions I’m not sure I want to know the answer to.
Likewise, how this crisis will ultimately affect the legal profession and justice system is still unknown. Surely some impacts will be felt for years. That uncertainty, coupled with the continued rapid evolution of the pandemic, led us here at the ABA Journal to conclude our production process wouldn’t allow us to provide comprehensive coverage of the crisis in this
Our commitment to you
Although the nature of our production process has limited our ability to cover the pandemic in the print magazine, our staff has worked tirelessly to provide robust coverage of the crisis online. Our coronavirus-related reporting is compiled at ABAJournal.com/covid-19, and we continue to update that page frequently.
Rest assured that in the coming months and years, the Journal will continue to cover the impacts of this crisis on the legal community. It’s part of our commitment to serve our members and the legal profession—one that hasn’t wavered in the face of this adversity.
John O’Brien joined the ABA Journal as editor and publisher in November.