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Legal services essential under statewide Safer at Home order

Legal services are defined as essential businesses and operations under Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order issued on Tuesday.

The order closes businesses defined as nonessential, forbids gatherings of any size and places restrictions on travel across Wisconsin from 8 a.m. on Wednesday through April 24 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Evers’ order has various exceptions, including for legal services. Although legal services can continue during the statewide ban, the order says those providing such services should use technology to avoid meeting in person to the greatest extent possible and still practice social distancing.

The decision to define legal services as essential comes after Jill Kastner, president of the State Bar of Wisconsin, sent Evers a letter advocating for the need to allow attorneys to work during a potential shelter-in-place order.

“The Governor recognized the vital role attorneys play at this time of uncertainty and our ability to help Wisconsinites address the challenges and worries facing them,” the State Bar tweeted on Tuesday after the order was issued.

Kastner said the letter was a reminder to the governor’s office that attorneys need to remain active to serve the public during the pandemic.

The justice system doesn’t close, and it can’t close down,” Kastner said. “Legal services are simply one of those continuing vital services that we need even as we continue to social distance and continue to combat the spread of COVID-19.”

About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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