A Message from Lawyers Mutual, 05/22/2020

MAY 22, 2020

Lawyers Mutual Insureds,

In accordance with the Governor’s May 8, 2020 Order for phase 1 reopenings, including professional service offices (See Executive Order 2020-323), we began a phased reopening of LMICK’s offices on May 11, 2020. Since March 23rd, we’d been working mostly remotely with in-office activity only as absolutely necessary. Since May 11th, however, there has been LMICK staff in the office every day, but some remote work continues. Like you, we are working, homeschooling children, taking care of non-school age children without available daycares and trying to keep ourselves and our families healthy and well. Yet, we remain committed to serving your needs and moving back to a more normal work environment.

We are following the recommended guidance for being safe at work. We have hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves. We clean and sanitize regularly. Importantly, we can be socially distanced from each other while in our respective work spaces. Even though our office is open, we ask that you continue to use phone and e-mail as your primary form of communication with us. This is for our safety and yours. If you need to meet with a specific staff person, we ask that you schedule an appointment so that we are prepared for your arrival. Please plan to wear a mask while in our office. Indeed, the building management is requiring a mask for entry into the building. There are signs to that effect in the lobby of the building. If you do not have a mask, and have no way of acquiring one, then one will be provided to you if a visit to our office is unavoidable. To ensure reduced exposure via proper social distancing, all meetings will take place in the front conference room. If you are feeling unwell in any way, then we ask that you reschedule your appointment. Our purpose remains – to serve your practice as our own.

Healthy At Work – Phase 1 Reopening Guidelines:

You’re probably planning for, or already in the midst of, the reopening of your own law office. In doing so, please make sure to use the recommended guidelines for resuming in-office activities so that you, your staff and clients stay well. Just because you can reopen does not mean you should. For example, if you and your colleagues cannot work without being closer than the recommended 6 feet, then perhaps your office needs to remain closed or you should implement a staggered work schedule so that not everyone is in the office at the same time. There are a number of considerations from the Kentucky Department for Public Health for safely resuming in-office work, including but not limited to the following:
  1. Limiting face-to-face meetings;
  2. Minimizing access to and use of common areas;
  3. Supplying and/or requiring personal protective equipment;
  4. Taking employees’ temperatures;
  5. Sanitizing the workplace;
  6. Accommodating at risk employees so that they are not exposed;
  7. Minimizing non-essential travel;
  8. Implementing a testing plan; and
  9. Allowing remote work when possible.
Be smart! You don’t want your office reported for being out of compliance. We are all anxious to get back to business as usual, but the above referenced guidelines may be part of our foreseeable future to avoid a resurgence of cases and a new round of restrictions and closures.

We have all been hyper-vigilant about our physical health and well being over the past two months. Your mental health is equally important. Should you find yourself struggling emotionally, abusing alcohol or drugs, or otherwise losing control during this stress-filled time, please know that the Kentucky Lawyers Assistance Program is still open for business, taking calls (and referrals) and helping lawyers through this most unusual of times. You are not alone and support is a phone call away. You can reach KYLAP at (502) 226-9373.

Remote Notarization – Further Guidance:

In the last LMICK Minute, we included a question from a careful insured who inquired about remote notarization. In response, we received a message from another insured, Colleen Hegge from Union, KY, who shared her experience in requesting and obtaining clarification from the Secretary of State’s office about video notarization using Zoom. The specific guidance from Johnna Ballinger from the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office to Ms. Hegge was as follows:

To be permitted to perform notarial acts with respect to tangible records using remote communication technology pursuant to KRS 423.455, you must notify the Secretary of State of your intention to do so and identify the communication technology platform you will be using pursuant to KRS 423.455(6). Please include your full name as it appears on your commission certificate and your current Notary ID # / Commission ID # and expiration date.

The communication technology platform you select must be capable of recording each session and you much retain a copy of each session for a period of ten (10) years pursuant to KRS 423.455(5). If the platform you select is not capable of fulfilling this requirement, you are not permitted to perform notarial acts remotely until you have notified the Secretary of State that you have selected a different communication technology platform that has this capability.

Each notary public intending to perform notarial acts with respect to tangible records using remote communication technology must be familiar with all requirements of KRS 423.455 which includes the requirement that the notary is located in this state and that the notarial certificate states that the notarial act involved the use of communication technology.

This does not permit you to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records.

If you wish to perform notarial acts with respect to electronic records, either remotely or in person, you must comply with KRS 423.300 to 423.450, which requires the use of technology that renders the notarized electronic record tamper-evident. To perform these types of notarizations, you must register with the Secretary of State.

If you’ve done your research, consulted those with prior experience, and reviewed the statutes and still have questions about how to comply, please contact Johnna Ballinger, Program Coordinator for Notary Commissions, in the Kentucky Office of Secretary of State at Johnna.Ballinger@ky.gov. You may also consult Dinsmore’s Kentucky Remote Notarization of Tangible Document Guide on the LMICK website. Thanks to LMICK Board member Sarah McKenna and her colleague Danny O’Gara for allowing us to make this resource available to you. A link to the Dinsmore Guide is here for your ready reference.

Notary Insurance Bonds:

Effective January 1, 2020, the changes to the process for becoming a notary public include a new requirement of providing a $1,000 insurance bond when the applicant presents to the county clerk’s office to take his or her oath of office. A personal bond is no longer permitted. LMICK can assist you in securing the necessary bond. In partnership with The Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company in St. Louis, Missouri, LMICK offers professionalism (a bond program managed by lawyers for lawyers), speed (most bonds issued in 24 hours or less) and security (proven financial strength and stability). Let us help you with your notary insurance bond needs. An application can be found on the LMICK website.

Finally, take care of yourselves and your practices. Now, more than ever, we thank you for selecting us to be your professional liability insurance carrier and ask that you recommend us to your lawyer colleagues.

If we can be of assistance, call us at 502-568-6100 or e-mail us at lmick@lmick.com.

Angela Logan Edwards – CEO
Nancy Meyers – Marketing Director