It’s been a crazy ride for several weeks. In some ways, the practice of law is the same. In some ways, it’s different. Sometimes it just feels different. In spite of the photo, I've been able to work in my satellite office and have been the only one here.
Litigation slowed but is picking back up with hearings being held via Zoom and telephone. I hear that our hard-working state court judges are ready, willing, and able to take on matters in this fashion. They are public servants, and they want to do their jobs.
Some of the other salient issues during this pandemic:
PPP Loans; Employee Layoffs; Unemployment Issues
I’ve advised employers on laying off employees. Then bringing them back when financing comes in. There is potential exposure for employers every step of the way.
I’ve counseled private businesses on how to not run afoul of PPP Loan Certifications (dreaded question 31, now alleviated for loans under $2 million).
Both employers and employees have lots of unemployment questions, unsurprisingly.
And all the regular employment law issues do not go away in a pandemic. I’ve had the honor to represent or consult with several nursing professionals.
I’ve represented both commercial landlords and tenants for work out agreements I would have never thought possible. Both sides are being reasonable and working in earnest to compromise, which is great to see. Professionalism and respect for one another go a long way to working out deals. It’s not always just dollars and cents.
Noncompete and Trade Secret Litigation; Employers and Executives
On behalf of an employer, I geared up for a major injunction hearing for a Noncompete at the BLS, to be held via video conference. The matter is now on hold. I was actually working on a weekend. During the pandemic.
I’m helping several executives who have been terminated. Some are dealing with issues related to company trade secrets that they needed to have access to while working at home. This could pop up more as everyone is working remotely. How are companies protecting trace secrets?
I’ve helped several other executive-level employees with contracts and noncompetes.
I represented another employer to resolve a declaratory judgment complaint about a noncompete.
It’s interesting how many noncompete and trade secret issues are coming up. Maybe it’s just a function of so many people being terminated and a certain percentage have noncompetes and were privy to trade secrets and proprietary business information.
LLC and Partnership Buyouts and Dissolutions
It’s an interesting time to split up a business, but sometimes shareholders and partners just need to go their separate ways. This economy makes business valuation challenging. I haven’t seen an uprising in these matters, but it has been steady.
Business marches on! I have worked on several business contracts, including oversea supplier contracts and technology service contracts. Some businesses remain optimistic and are prepared for this new economy. American enthusiasm is great to see.
Real Estate Deposits
I’ve handled several disputes between buyers and sellers of real estate when the deal has failed and the parties are fighting over the deposit. This indicates to me that more transactions are being put into question, either because of financing issues or buyers getting cold feet.
Mediations By Zoom or Phone
Many mediations are now being conducted by Zoom or even by phone. I have several scheduled. Let’s see how they go.
We can all get through this and lawyers can still practice law during the pandemic and the upcoming “new normal.” We can embrace the challenge and look forward to helping our clients. My family and friends have fortunately remained healthy. I know that others are dealing with tragedy and many frontline heroes are putting themselves at risk. As lawyers, all we can do is to show kindness and respect to clients and opponents alike and be cognizant of what they may be dealing with.
By Adam P. Whitney