Robert Sing Article: "Batter Up! Planning Ahead for When Things Return to Normal."

After what has been one of the most trying years in modern human history, things are finally starting to look up. The COVID vaccine rollout is beginning to pick up steam, the seven-day average of new reported COVID cases continues to trend downward, the snow is melting and spring is finally in the air. Or at least it is in Clearwater, Florida, where the Phillies have begun spring training for the 2021 season. Much like the Phillies, who are working on their batting lineup for the upcoming season, so too am I beginning to work on my “batting lineup” of things that I plan on doing once things return to normal. Here are six things I am looking forward to doing in the hopefully near future:

Attend CLE courses in person.

Although it has been convenient attending CLE courses from the comfort of my own apartment, there are benefits to attending them in person that virtual courses simply cannot offer. Virtual CLE courses do not give you the opportunity to meet the speakers or connect with your fellow attendees. Attending a course in person gives you the chance to grow your professional network, especially at smaller and more intimate courses such as the “Luncheon Lecture Series” organized by the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association.

Get together with family.

One of the hardest parts of the pandemic has been being separated from family. Even with the various means of communication that exist today, we all have missed out on seeing family for almost a full year now. We have missed out on celebrating birthdays, weddings and holidays. Many of us have lost family over the past year. Family is very important to me and seeing family again is something that is high on my list of priorities when it is safe to do so.

Get more involved with the various bar organizations.

Both before and during the pandemic, bar organizations such as the Philadelphia Bar Association, Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and Pennsylvania Association for Justice have been essential resources to me; they will surely continue to be essential resources after the pandemic. As I continue to grow as a professional, I would like to get more involved with these organizations and contribute to their causes. Although all of these organizations have been able to host invaluable virtual events over the past year, there are in-person events that I miss going to. There are some events, such as the Pennsylvania Association for Justice’s Auto Law Seminar, that I have only ever been able to participate in via Zoom. Although Zoom and similar platforms can be used to great effect, I enjoy going to in-person events not only to network, but also to simply change up my routine and scenery for a day. While some in-person events are held in fancy restaurants or hotel conference rooms, the virtual events I have attended take place within the same four corners of my apartment.

Go to a Sixers game.

What a difference a year can make. The seemingly inescapable negative energy that surrounded this team last year is no longer here (it just headed over to Lincoln Financial Field). The Sixers are rolling right now. Joel Embiid is looking like Godzilla and destroying everything in his path. For the first time since 2001, the Sixers are heading into the All Star break at the top of the Eastern Conference. This is a team that loves to play in front of its fans at Wells Fargo Center. I miss the roar of the crowd as Embiid waves goodbye to the latest opponent he goaded into getting ejected. Hopefully the next time I go to a Sixers game, I will be watching them in the Finals while enjoying a giant slice of Lorenzo’s pizza.

Go to trial.

I think we all have been eagerly waiting for the day that we can get back to safely conducting in-person jury trials. Nearly a year after the pandemic brought courts across the country to a grinding halt, the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court is finally set to restart in-person jury trials this month thanks to the hard work and dedication of the bench and the bar. Trials play a crucial part in the litigation process and even though the majority of cases do not go to trial, an impending trial date can be a great motivator to settle a case. Without trial dates, plenty of pending cases have been stuck in limbo for the past year. Now that in-person jury trials are finally beginning to start again, hopefully the backlog of cases begins to dwindle. I was actually in the middle of the first trial that I was actively assisting on the day everything was shut down in March 2020. I was getting my first taste of what it was like to be on trial. Unfortunately, I did not get to experience a full trial from beginning to end. Experience is the best teacher and I do hope to experience a full in-person jury trial soon.

See a movie in a movie theater.

One thing I have really missed over the past year has been going to the movie theater. Pre-COVID, my fiancée and I had a tradition of seeing most, if not all, Marvel movies on opening night. Sure it might be convenient to stream the newest releases right to your home, but there is something about seeing blockbuster movies with other fans on opening night that for obvious reasons cannot be experienced from home. I look forward to the day I can watch Vin Diesel blow up yet another Dodge Charger or Spider-Man swing through New York City on the big screen again. This is just a sampling of the things I want to do as we move out of the pandemic. Most of these things are going to look quite different than before. In-person jury trials are going to look very different because of social distancing and mask requirements. Sporting events, movie theaters and gatherings are going to be limited to a certain capacity. Hopefully the COVID-19 pandemic continues to trend in the right direction so that we can all get back to doing the things we want to do. But much like how the Phillies need to adjust their batting lineup on the fly if somebody is injured, we too need to be ready to adjust our plans should the pandemic take a turn for the worse. Here’s to sunnier days ahead.

Robert T. Sing is a catastrophic injury attorney with Duffy + Fulginiti in Philadelphia. Learn more about his work at duffyfirm.com.