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  • Writer's pictureLindsey B. Craft

Navigating the New Normal as a Small Business

The position of outside counsel to small and mid-size businesses has never seemed as evolving of an area of law as over the past couple of months. From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we started working with clients to revamp their business models in accordance with social distancing practices, and assisted with navigating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA Act) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ACT (CARES Act). Throughout this time, I have been so impressed by the heart of my clients who have worked to both take care of their employees and families while following mandates closely and making sure they do their part to help flatten the curve.

In the last several weeks, we have noticed that many of our clients have faced the same issues: how to keep pressing forward. These shared problems often come down to similar scenarios and questions. Here at ML|MW, we want you to know that we are dedicated to helping our clients throughout this time by assisting with some of the issues we have encountered, detailed further below.

1. I just need some time to get caught up, but I do not even know where to start. What do I do?

The good news for you, is you are definitely not alone. If you are having trouble making ends meet to pay your rent or mortgage, we can advise you on your options. Whether it be exercising a force majeure clause in your contract, making a business interruption claim, or negotiating with your landlord the terms of your lease to allow you to preserve the space you have built, you have viable options.

2. There are so many acronyms floating around - PPP, CARES, EIDL, FFCRA - and I just need someone to break this down for me simply: what are my options?

You are amongst good company. Until we sat down and read the legislation, it all sounded so confusing to us too. But it doesn't have to be. If you need information about securing assistance from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the CARES Act, we can help. If you are just struggling to digest the overwhelming amount of information regarding eligibility, forgiveness, and repayment requirements under the EIDL or PPP, we are available to walk you through the information and make sure you understand the decisions you are making.

3. My landlord/mortgage company is threatening to remove me from the property. I have always paid timely, but I was required to close my business and I do not have the savings to be out of work this long and still keep everything afloat. How do I stop this?

You may have several options available to you, and we are happy to walk you through what works for you. If you are facing a commercial eviction or foreclosure, and a lawsuit has already been filed against you, or nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings initiated, we are here to advise you on the viability of your options, whether it be filing bankruptcy or asserting potential defenses such as impossibility and impracticability. No matter how you choose to fight, we are here to provide compassionate and dedicated representation to protect you and your family in your future.

4. I am ready to reopen my business, but my employees are receiving more from unemployment or are scared they might get sick, and do not want to return. What can I do?

Over the last couple of weeks, this has become an increasingly prevalent issue. Many clients are limited in their pay structure by outside forces, and many are scared about how to obtain PPP forgiveness if their workforce does not return. Recent Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) guidance may be helpful to you as well as information as to what the specific PPP requirements are. There are also options in structuring employee pay to help entice valued employees to return, and ways we can make sure your employees feel safe when they do. We certainly understand the dilemma and are ready to work with you through it.

Wherever it is your new normal may be, ML|MW has experienced business counsel ready to help you navigate the road you are on. Please give us a call at (281) 582-1296 to discuss your options.

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