As Maryland businesses scramble to understand and respond to the legal implications of the coronavirus pandemic, Baltimore law firms are providing free online resources and services to help.
Firms say hundreds of people have listened to legal webinars or taken advantage of discounted legal services as the virus upends businesses across the state.
Ballard Spahr LLP’s COVID-19 Resource Center offers a wide range of articles and contacts for lawyers in 10 practice areas that handle matters from employment law to privacy and data security.
Desmond Connall Jr., an attorney in Baltimore and Washington who leads the Philadelphia-based firm’s leasing team, is a primary contact for real estate, housing and landlord services on the COVID-19 Resource Center page. Connall said a webinar last Wednesday on force majeure clauses attracted more than 250 people.
Connall said most of the people attending Ballard Spahr’s webinars or taking advantage of COVID-19 online resources are seeking guidance from the firm for the first time.
“There’s a real hunger for knowledge of what’s going on, and the issues are fascinating — it’s just in a time there’s so much heartache and tragedy,” Connall said, adding that he had just gotten off the phone with a client who owns 19 restaurants and had recently laid off 800 employees.
The firm also has created a legislative tracker that follows matters related to the virus at the state and federal level and has begun an Entrepreneur Legal Relief Program that offers discounted legal services.
At Miles and Stockbridge, lawyers have assembled a cross-disciplinary Coronavirus Task Force to help clients navigate in an uncertain time.
The website includes daily postings about news and legislation related to the virus outbreak, as well as a list of partners who cover areas such as federal disaster relief, health care and government contracts.
President and CEO Joe Hovermill said the firm is being careful not to flood people with notifications about webinars and other virus-related information.
“We’ve really tried to be thoughtful about managing the resources we have and only targeting clients who benefit from the specific coronavirus information we have,” Hovermill said. “There’s a lot of feedback that clients are exhausted by various webinars being thrown at them.”
Hovermill noted that the firm’s knowledge of the virus and its impacts on businesses have been useful internally and to partners who want to know how to direct their clients to the right specialist.
Gordon Feinblatt LLC, based in Baltimore, has assembled a COVID-19 Information Hub, which links clients to articles about the virus’ effects on real estate, federal financial assistance programs and effects on health care workers.
Searle Mitnick, a real estate attorney for Gordon Feinblatt, said the firm has started doing practice group phone calls about real estate issues, in which lawyers discuss what resources would be most useful for clients.
“It’s been a lot of calls, and we’ve been trying to provide an easy summary of information to access,” Mitnick said.