A Message from Lawyers Mutual, 04/06/2020

APRIL 6, 2020

Lawyers Mutual Insureds,

These are uncertain and difficult times to be sure. Most importantly, we hope you and your loved ones are healthy. We anticipate that you are getting a handle on working remotely in what may be our new normal for the foreseeable future. Though risk management advice is not the purpose of this communication, we would be remiss if we did not take every opportunity to remind you of the importance of client communications during this time. Now more than ever it is critical that you have regular communications with your clients and manage their expectations about what you can and cannot do in the current climate. We surmise that a significant number of the bar complaints and/or claims against your coverage during this time will be the result of a failure of adequate communications. This is the time to be more resolute and diligent in client communications.

We are receiving a number of inquiries about what financial assistance may be available to lawyers and law practices as a result of the pandemic. We are not expert in interpreting all of the new legislation and regulations in that regard, but wanted to provide some guidance for your consideration. You should consult a financial professional for the specifics of what is available and whether you qualify. If, however, you are unable to work due the COVID-19 State of Emergency, please consider these options:

  • Self-employed persons are now eligible for Kentucky Unemployment benefits, with the federal government enhancing benefits by $600.00 per week. To apply, go online to kcc.ky.gov or call 502-875-0442 (check website for Regional Phone Numbers). You must file on a certain day of the week based on your last name: Sunday A-D; Monday E-H; Tuesday I-L; Wednesday M-P; Thursday Q-U; and Friday V-Z or anyone who missed his/her date.
  • Law firms with less than 500 employees are eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through local banks that are SBA-certified lenders. Called SBA 7(a) Loans -100% guaranteed by SBA with an interest rate of 4%. Maximum loan is 2.5 times the average monthly payroll (cap of $100,000 per employee) based on the prior year’s payroll (up to $10 million) to pay payroll, sick leave, family leave, interest on mortgages, rent, utilities, etc. Any fees are paid from loan. Payments deferred and loan forgiveness equal to the amount spent by borrower during 8 week period after loan origination thru 6/20. To apply, go to SBA website www.sba.gov, and complete SBA Form 2483. Have tax preparer/accountant certify your payroll information to submit to local lender with application. Check SBA portal to see what lenders in your area have been approved to handle SBA 7(a) loans.
  • Law firms are eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants (EIDL) up to $2 million, with $10,000 emergency advance with application, thru 12/31/20. Partial loan forgiveness equal to amount spent during 8 week period after loan origination. Apply directly to SBA. Go to www.sba.gov Disaster Loan Assistance for online application.
  • Lost your health insurance? Kentucky Medicaid now with ‘presumptive eligibility’ through 6/30/2020. To apply, complete online application which is being used during the COVID-10 State of Emergency. Covers individuals and families.
  • Ill or Exposed? All employers with less than 500 employees are now required to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave benefits due to COVID-19 illness or exposure up to 80 hours for full-time employee. Check Emergency Paid Sick Leave of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) effective April 1, 2020.
  • At home with your child because school /day care closed? All employers with less than 500 employees are required to offer Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) paid benefits up to 12 weeks depending on why you are taking leave. Check Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) as amended for conditions and rate of pay effective April 1, 2020.

Though not an exhaustive discussion of each of the resources that may be available to assist you in your time of need, we are optimistic that there is something in the list above that you had not thought of that will benefit you, your family, and/or your employees.

For more information on SBA Loans and the CARES Act, the Kentucky Justice Association has available to its members a video recording of a Zoom program presented on Friday, April 3, 2020 – “SBA Loans and the CARES Act: What you need to know now”. Other programs from KJA that may be useful include “Adapting Your Law Office to COVID-19 and Working Remotely” (presented on March 24th), “COVID-19: Essentials and Best Practices for Working Remotely” (presented on March 27), and “Practicing Remotely during COVID-19: Client communication, case management and more” (presented on March 30). Please contact the KJA for more information on how you might access these presentations.

Finally, thanks to Ruth Baxter, President of LMICK, for her work in preparing this list of resources. Stay well and contact us at lmick@lmick.com or the “contact” button on the LMICK website if we can be of assistance.

Angela Logan Edwards – CEO
Nancy Meyers – Marketing Director