Attorney Jonathan Fields Quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly

Snap Judgments: Lawyers predict issue that will dominate legal landscape in 2021

Q. Prediction time: What issue on the horizon will dominate the legal landscape in 2021?


“Five hours of time for a five-minute hearing has never seemed so wasteful. With the experience of remote hearings, will the courts realize that, in 2021 and beyond, we cannot go back to the old way of doing things?”
Jonathan E. Fields
Fields & Dennis, Wellesley


“In 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine’s impact on the workforce will dominate the legal landscape. Employers will grapple with vaccine resistance, some due to disability, some due to religious beliefs, some due to fear, and some due to deep-seated distrust of governmental vaccination programs ( i.e., the Tuskegee Study). Health officials and employers alike must establish trust through compliance with federal and state public health initiatives and anti-discrimination guidelines.”
Denise I. Murphy, president
Massachusetts Bar Association


“Race and criminal justice. Will the police reform legislation emerging on Beacon Hill actually deliver on the promise to make police officers and departments accountable to the public — especially in communities of color? And will the Legislature, the courts and the legal profession step up to meet the challenge presented by the Harvard Law School study, commissioned by Chief Justice Gants, that so vividly documented profound racial inequality in our criminal justice system?”
Martin F. Murphy, president
Boston Bar Association


“How the legal system conducts jury trials and deals with the overall backlog are going to be the most pressing legal questions in the coming year. There are hundreds of pending cases, and figuring out how we are going to safely and constitutionally handle them in a post-COVID society is something we are all focused on. We need to make sure that those who have the least are not left behind as we try to rebuild our legal system.”
Anthony J. Benedetti
Committee for Public Counsel Services


“Evictions and foreclosures, unless there is an extended moratorium. In anticipation, I’m rewriting §10:2 ‘Foreclosure Defense’ with a subsection on eviction defense, for 28 Mass. Practice: Real Estate Law, of which I’m the current author. As in the 1930s’ Great Depression, we may see mass civil disobedience to block foreclosure auctions and evictions, bankruptcies of residential and commercial landlords, and bank failures. Hunger and desperation may lead to increased crime, especially theft of food.”
Michael Pill
Green, Miles, Lipton, Northampton


“Employers will likely face complex and vexing issues on whether to require employees to take the COVID vaccines. So far there are not government requirements, but that may change as the vaccines prove effective. Presently, the issue of mandatory vaccinations raises the issue of ADA strictures as well as Title VII religious issues. The EEOC just issued guidelines yesterday, but not requirements. Stay tuned!”
Andrew P. Botti
McLane Middleton, Woburn


“Immigration law dominates the legal landscape in 2021. The incoming administration will be under significant pressure to undo the most harmful policies of the Trump administration. Changes in the immigration courts, asylum laws, green card applications, as well as restoration of DACA and Temporary Protected Status will occupy much of the administration’s first days. The Biden administration faces a gargantuan task, and because of that immigration law will be a continuing hot topic in 2021.”
Susan B. Church
Demissie & Church, Cambridge