Vlog series: Lawyering in the Time of Coronavirus with Kenny Matuszewski

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about many challenges that workers and professionals must grapple with worldwide. Lawyers are navigating the uncharted territory of practice law while social distancing and are finding creative solutions to do so. The Young Lawyers Section of The Chicago Bar Association will showcase many of its members and will ask them questions about how they’re “Lawyering in the Time of Coronavirus,” with this Vlog series.

The next in the series features Kenny Matuszewski, Project Officer and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the @theBar Blog. Kenny practices intellectual property law at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP.

Kenny’s Vlog and the written answers to the questions are below:

Q: Are you working remotely?  If yes, what’s your set up?

A: I’ve been working remotely for five weeks. Right now, I have set up a quasi-dual-monitor system by using my laptop as one monitor, and my desktop as a second monitor. I am able to seamlessly handle calls sent to my office line through Skype. We also use it as a platform for video and telephonic meetings. To maintain good posture when working on my laptop, I’ll set it on a laptop stand that I got from Amazon (for less than $20!).

I tend to do a lot of my work in my bedroom since my desk there gives me enough space to place both my laptop and desktop. There’s even room to spare for a notepad and my record player. As a result, when I’m not taking calls, I go through my record collection and find the genre and artist that best fits the situation.

If I need a change in scenery, I’ll take my laptop and work in another room. Even a small change of scenery can be a good change of pace.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you are facing as a result of the changes to your normal day-to-day operations?

A: I started my new job a few weeks ago, right before the tumultuous changes COVID-19 brought. Probably the biggest challenge I’m facing is not being able to walk over and ask my colleagues for help if I have any questions. Being in the office allows me to solve problems more quickly, introduce myself to others, and work together as a team, which I greatly enjoy.

To overcome this, I’ve used my mentors and colleagues I already know at the firm to ask who might be able to best help solve a certain problem. I then email that person and have generally found him or her to be responsive, friendly, and happy to give advice. My colleagues have also been great about giving me opportunities to meet both partners and associates remotely and checking in on me to make sure everything is ok. In these uncertain times, knowing that I have support from the firm is very comforting.

Q: What are you doing to stay sane while social distancing?

A: As much as possible, I’m trying to live by the philosophy “the show must go on.” For instance, I recently gave a presentation on eSports and IP for the YLS Creative Arts and IP Committees, and am ensuring @theBar blog is able to provide our readers with up-to-date content about COVID-19 and consistent content in areas they already enjoy. I’m also helping plan some future programs for the YLS, including a Game Night (along with a Video Game Night potentially) and a webinar series on “How the CBA Can Help You Make Partner” with the L.E.A.D. Committee.

To ensure I don’t lose track of the days, I try to give myself as many social opportunities as I can via the Internet and social media. Through Zoom, my monthly dinner club was able to host a virtual meeting. I’ve also been able to host game nights with friends (including Scattergories and Jackbox), happy hours, and use the Netflix Party extension to watch shows like Tiger King. My Dungeons and Dragons group have even been able to continue our campaign through the website Roll20!

I’ve always been very comfortable with technology, so learning more about ways to connect with others virtually is something that I enjoy.

Q: If you have a useful tip/hack/resource you can suggest to other lawyers, please share it.

During these times, classifying the degree and scope of emotions everyone is feeling would be an understatement at best and disrespectful at worst. But, if your anxiety and stress levels begin to feel overwhelming, start by taking a few deep breaths. Then, count backward from 5 and do the following:

Find 5 things you see.

Find 4 things you can feel.

Find 3 things you can hear.

Find 2 things you can smell. If you need to move to another room, feel free to do so.

Find 1 thing you can taste. Feel free to take a short snack break.

Go through as many repetitions as needed, and do not feel ashamed to ask for help if you feel you need it.

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