I am in awe of healthcare workers who do their jobs every day during the COVID crisis. They know that they are putting themselves at great risk; they see the serious effects of this disease all too closely. Yet they continue to go to work, putting their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. While this country has a history of coming together in times of crisis, it takes a truly special person to take action knowing that they may wind up in harm’s way. We really cannot honor their heroism enough.
The rest of us do what we can to help others during the crisis. Whether it is helping an elderly neighbor with their grocery shopping, making a donation to a local food pantry, sewing masks for a hospital or simply staying at home to avoid spreading the coronavirus, most people are trying to do their part. And of course, lawyers can offer legal advice.
At Cohen & Siegel, we are providing pro bono legal services to small businesses through a joint program sponsored by Lawyers for Good Government and the New York City Bar Justice Center. Through this initiative, we are offering free consultations to small businesses in New York that have been affected by the coronavirus. The project is being offered in many cities throughout the country, but since we a New York law firm, we can only offer advice in our state.
Many people are wondering what will happen to their businesses if they remain closed. How will they pay their bills? Can they be evicted for failing to pay their rent? Do they qualify for the Small Business Association loans? Will their insurance cover any of their losses? What happens to their employees? Can they actually work while their state is shut down? The list of worries seems endless.
I have given two consultations and am preparing for more. The advice I’ve dispensed cannot solve every issue these business owners have; I wish it could. But I hope it at least offers some direction, and the knowledge that they are not in this fight alone – they do have help, and there are resources to offer hope.
Sometimes, that’s enough.