The government shutdown, which as of Saturday is the longest in U.S. history, has caused delays in litigation and communication involving federal agencies that have closed.
The shutdown’s effects will only become more pronounced as it continues, officials have said. Federal courts are funded only through next week. Beyond that, there is a likelihood of serious delays for many cases, but even experts and government officials are uncertain exactly how a prolonged shutdown might play out.
Here are answers to some basic questions about how the shutdown might affect the legal industry, followed by links to our must-read shutdown coverage.
This shutdown might go on for weeks. Is now a good time to go on vacation?
Definitely not, according to Jeffrey Lowe, global practice leader of Major Lindsey & Africa’s Law Firm Practice Group.
The shutdown might seem as though it will go on indefinitely, but in the past, they have been known to end quite suddenly, Lowe said. And once that happens, everyone will be in a rush to catch up on lost time.
"It's tempting for some to spend more time with family or go on vacation," he said. "But if they're not ready to deal with these issues the moment the shutdown ends, they're going to be in big trouble."
What should I tell clients?
The best thing to do is to set reasonable expectations for clients, to keep them informed about the obstacles that the shutdown has created and to assure them that everything is ready to go once the shutdown ends, Lowe said.
Compared to previous shutdowns, “I don’t see the same level of hysteria about it,” he added. “I think people in their minds are settled in for a long fight.”