2020: A Year in Review at De Palma & Associates
2020 has certainly been an interesting year to be a paralegal. With the ongoing pandemic, the way we work has drastically changed. This is mainly due to the justice system coming to a complete halt in March of this year. The effects of the halt are still being felt due to the system not being fully recovered.
This can be seen in the areas of law that we practice:
- Small Claims Court was closed completely starting in March and has only recently begun hearing very select cases over Zoom. Small Claims Court is far from back up and running.
- The Landlord & Tenant Board was closed completely from March to the middle of August and is currently hearing select types of cases via Microsoft Teams.
- Traffic Court has been closed since March and has yet to reopen.
This ultimately has left numerous clients with cases pending and no idea as to when their case will be heard. At De Palma & Associates Legal Services, we have and will continue to try our very best to negotiate out of court settlements to keep cases moving along for our clients.
However, with the halt of the justice system, I took it upon myself to become educated in another area – mediation. I chose mediation as an area to learn and offer to our clients due to the court closures and inevitable backlog it has caused. Mediation services can be used as an alternative to the court process or as a way to potentially resolve a dispute while waiting for a court appearance to be scheduled/rescheduled because of the COVID-19 shutdown.
We also started a new community initiative due to the pandemic. After schools closed last spring, many students missed their proms and graduations and we wanted to help give them a memorable experience during these challenging times. Thus Porch Prom 100 was created. We encouraged graduates to dress up and we would have their pictures professionally taken (socially distanced of course). Photos were free to all of the participants, all we asked was that the participants make a small donation to Prom Glitz, an organization that helps young women who can't afford a dress for their prom.
As the owner of De Palma & Associates Legal Services, I am extremely proud of my staff who has adapted to this new normal without missing a beat and continuing to put our clients first. There is hope that early 2021 will bring continued reopening of the court system, whether that be remote or in-person so that matters can get back up and running.
We would also like to thank all of our clients for their continued support and patience during these challenging times. We definitely would not have gotten through this without you.
If there is a silver lining, it is that there is hope that this shutdown will continue to bring much-needed technological innovation to the justice system such as online case lookup, electronic document filing, service of documents via email, and more that our system has been so sorely lacking.
With offices located in Barrie and Wasaga Beach, De Palma & Associates provides legal representation for Small Claims Court cases, landlord and tenant disputes, traffic tickets, United States entry waivers, criminal pardons (record suspensions), notary services, mediation and document commissioning throughout the Georgian Bay area and the GTA. If you have any questions or require mediation or legal representation, give us a call at De Palma & Associates at 705-429-2401.