Hogue Hill is taking the steps necessary to meet your needs during the COVID-19 Response.
POLICY UPDATE EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2021:
Hogue Hill, LLP, will begin to transition to meetings with clients in our conference rooms inside the building effective June 1, 2021, in response to changes in guidance from the CDC and Governors’ Orders.
While we encourage all who enter our building, whether vaccinated or not, to wear masks, we do not require that masks be worn. As we respect healthcare privacy, we will not be asking whether clients have been vaccinated, but we ask anyone who is not vaccinated to respect this honor system and to wear a mask. All who visit our office should know that not everyone in our building has been vaccinated, and this is notice to you that not everyone in our building has been vaccinated. If you wish for those providing services to you at our office to wear a mask, please make this request in advance of arrival and repeat the request upon arrival.
Some attorneys and staff of our firm who are working in the building have children below the age of vaccination eligibility, presenting a possible transmission vector even if vaccinated themselves. Others have family members who for whatever reason have not been vaccinated, presenting a transmission vector even if vaccinated themselves. Most of the attorneys and staff of our firm must enter the Courthouse, Register of Deeds’ Office, and other governmental buildings open to the general public, so we are exposed to greater risk of exposure than others may be.
The degree to which vaccinated persons can be carriers of COVID-19 is not something on which the medical and scientific community has reached clear consensus. The protection afforded by the available vaccines is not 100% protection. We think that decisions regarding masking and other COVID-19 precautions are decisions that each person must make individually and we ask that those who choose to enter our building not be offended if our attorneys or staff choose to wear a mask, and that they not be asked to explain why they choose to wear a mask. Everyone has had ample time and access to ample information to make their own informed decisions about masking, and no one needs to be told by anyone other than the government whether or not to wear a mask. Most people seem tired of the endless discussion of this subject and it wastes time needed to meet clients’ needs to discuss it at our offices. Of course you are welcome to address any concerns about our policy in advance of coming to our office.
For those uncomfortable with meeting in indoors in our conference rooms, the availability of other options, as described in our prior policy stated below, remains available, including receiving car-side services, and just let us know if that is desired, and if you have any special concerns of your own with regard to COVID-19 precautions you would like for us to consider in connection with those options.
With change occurring daily with new developments, we are responding daily to make what changes are necessary to meet your needs during the social distancing, isolation and quarantine required to respond to the pandemic. To protect our clients, vendors, attorneys and staff, we are working from home when practical and minimizing direct person to person contacts. Subject to availability of supplies, we are taking appropriate actions to prevent contamination of our office or through our office. We recognize the best protection for our clients and vendors is to limit entry into our office. Your understanding of this will be appreciated. We must all work together to protect public health.
In our efforts to provide continuity of services, the greatest obstacle for us is receipt of telephone communications, and please use the e-mail links in the website to e-mail to request a call rather than phoning in. We have call forwarding on our incoming line, but not for the five other numbers to which that rolls over under normal operations, and we are not using voicemail because that presents risk a message believed to have been left may not be received. So, if you do not receive an answer when you phone, use the e-mail links on this website, as available using the link below “Contact Us.” We will have phone coverage but that may require patience and repeated attempts. We will ask that the initial messages left by phone be brief so that the message may be e-mailed promptly and the line freed up for the next caller, as the call forwarding will limit us to one call at a time on incoming calls. Individual staff and attorneys may, when working remotely, provide to you their personal cell phone numbers, but during this time e-mail is the best means of communication. We do offer secure encrypted e-mail.
While e-mailing does not establish a new attorney-client relationship, it does get response if it is received and is not spam. If no response is received by you, assume the message has been blocked and try alternate means. If e-mail fails, try fax. If fax fails, try phone. We know that e-mail often gets filtered or blocked. We will have someone checking for faxes daily for as long as it remains possible for us to enter the office without violation of governmental measures to protect public health.
Unless governmental orders limit our services, we will continue to close transactions and provide notary service in connection with those transactions, and to provide closing and recording services when all needed governmental services are operational and open to us, subject to the health and availability of our staff and attorneys. We will otherwise work remotely from our office to meet client needs, and at most times there will be no one at the office to receive unscheduled visits. Documents and deliveries can be received through our mail slot in the front door. Please make arrangements for delivery of items which will not fit through a conventional front door mail slot.
Notary Services through banks presently remain available but by appointment only. Adaptation to these circumstances will include treating even closings involving only local parties as “mail-away” transactions, with signature occurring outside our office, and clients coming to the office only to deliver the executed documents, and if notary services have been unavailable outside our office, to give acknowledgment at car-side to a notary public, and to provide proof of identity with identification to the notary public, with minimized contact and observing, to the fullest extent practical, six foot distancing and minimal or no entry into our office. We do not have a drive-through window, but we do have a parking lot and staff will come to car-side in mask and gloves to received documents and identification and to hear your acknowledgement of signature when notary services are included. Communication at car-side can be by cell phone to minimize opening of windows to what is necessary to pass signed documents to our staff. Please phone us prior to and upon arrival, and if you wish to communicate via cell phone while receiving car-side services make that known to our staff when you call so they will know your wishes in this regard.
Our notary will walk to your car, parked in our parking lot, ask the questions necessary to acknowledge the documents, return to the office to check for initials and signatures in all needed places, notarize and return to your car to let you know that all is completed (subject to recording if applicable). We ask that this occur with the windows rolled up except as necessary to deliver documents and identification. If communication with windows up presents a challenge, then the cell phone can provide an alternative to open windows.
As circumstances develop we may begin to allow clients to enter the building for signature of documents, and if you are permitted to enter the building and choose to enter the building, wearing a mask will be required and if you do not have a mask a paper mask will be provided. We will ask that persons not signing documents remain outside the building. If you enter the building, please accept direction to a seat and remain seated there at 6 foot distancing from any others present, until signatures are completed and then please accept direction to the door to exit the building. If you need assistance from anyone not in the room please call out for assistance rather than wander the building, as we will be restricting access within the building for the benefit of the health of all.
Should circumstances not allow sufficient time for delivery of documents to you as printed by us, electronic delivery to you for printing by you may be possible, depending on the nature of the documents, but if this is done, be mindful that documents must not be printed to both sides of the page, and that formatting of margins is intended to comply with recording standards, and should not be changed, and that wet blue ink signatures are required by most parties, so originals must generally be delivered to us rather than scans.
Within the office our staff has access to surgical masks and cloth masks. Our policy is to wear masks when meeting with clients or vendors, even if at car-side and six foot distancing, and to wear masks when meeting among ourselves within the building when six foot distancing cannot be maintained. We ask that all clients and vendors also wear masks, and should you arrive without your mask, we will be happy to provide a complimentary paper mask for your use. Within our office we are mindful of the importance of hand washing, wearing of masks when six foot social distancing is not possible, and use of hand sanitizer and and sanitizing wipes and sprays, and we will do our best to comply with applicable orders and guidance. We keep soap and water, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes available in the office for use by staff and any who enter the building.
This also serves as notice as described in North Carolina General Statutes § 99E-71(b) (HB118).
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