By Joshua A. Swanson

It was a hectic Thursday morning, as some mornings at law offices tend to be. We aren’t talking about a deposition, mediation, or heading to court for argument, though. No, this particular morning was different. It wasn’t even past 9:00 a.m., and we were dealing with a big blowout. Of the diaper variety. The proverbial “stuff” literally just hit the fan, or at least most of the changing table and my shirt. This is the new normal as I adjust to working from home while our community, state, and nation grapple with life, and work, in the wake of the national emergency prompted by Coronavirus.

Vogel Law Firm is open for business. Our attorneys are diligently working to serve our clients and meet their needs as we have since the 1880s. Most of us are doing so from home, teleworking, following the advice of medical and scientific experts to slow the spread of this contagion. They call it social distancing, but we’re still connected. As part of that, my five-month-old son, Maverick, is Vogel’s newest “associate,” and my new officemate. He’s sat in on a dozen conference calls this week from his bouncer chair, and diligently watches me research and write briefs, and respond to e-mails from his play mat. Make no mistake, he unquestionably runs the show at the firm’s “Swanson & Swanson” branch office in West Fargo. Generally, Mav is a good boss. Unless he needs a bottle, nap, or of course, a new diaper. Then I hear about it.

This is life right now, and for the foreseeable future. We’re adjusting.  My wife, Libby, is a medical physicist at the Roger Maris Cancer Center. Our daycare has advised parents to keep kids at home unless it’s an emergency. Frankly, like many parents, we’re concerned about Coronavirus’s impact on our child and the unknowns. She’s essential personnel at work, helping people fight cancer attacking their bodies. I’m essential personnel at home as Maverick’s daddy. That doesn’t mean my clients disappear. For me, that means taking calls with a client, then feeding Mav a bottle. I’ve fed him a bottle while on a call. It’s working on a brief or e-mailing clients providing advice until Maverick cries because babies sometimes cry and he wants to be held by his daddy.

My clients have been wonderfully understanding. Every work call this week has started the same, with me saying some variation of:

If you hear a baby crying in the background, that’s my son Maverick. I’m working from home as we deal with the rapidly evolving situation. If I need to jump off the call, I’ll call you back as soon as I can, or will e-mail you to figure out another time to talk.

Like everyone, we juggle family and work, prudence and commerce, and heed the advice of the medical and scientific experts. We stay informed, but we also pray. We order takeout to help local restaurants.  None of this is easy, and each day is its own set of challenges. But if our grandparents, the Greatest Generation, can overcome the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, we’ll get through this, too. Our law firm, and others across the state and region, are showing leadership, working to keep the doors of justice open for however long we’re fighting this battle.  Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer once said, “We can speak about the institution, but ultimately the bar is the group that both is in touch with the public on the one hand and understands the judicial institution on the other.” Even if that means dealing with bottles and diapers while doing it.

I’m proud to be a lawyer and work at Vogel Law Firm. I’m prouder to be Maverick’s daddy. I can, and will continue, doing both at the same time. In fact, being Mav’s daddy makes me a better lawyer, and allows me to better serve my clients.

Be well, stay safe, and know that if you need a lawyer, Vogel Law Firm is here for you.


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