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Legal Creativity Helps Overcome Business Obstacles

Earlier this year, a client was scheduled to close on a commercial condominium they were selling. Certain documents had been sent to recording in order to allow the closing to take place; the buyer insisted that they could be viewed on the public records before he would close. Time was tight and events were not in our client’s favor. The coronavirus had reduced the recording office's staff, making it impossible to know when the documents would be viewable online.

Our client asked us for solutions to close on schedule. So we got creative. Our team showed the buyer the correspondence and receipts with the recording office. The buyer didn't think that was good enough. We then contacted the recording office and obtained confirmation from it of the challenges and delays that it was facing and how the office was dealing with them.

Finally the buyer agreed and the closing took place. Our client appreciated our counsel.

Before the coronavirus, businesses faced obstacles. The pandemic made them rampant. To survive, businesses need inventive solutions, often those only an attorney can provide. Restaurant owners that are considering either retro-fitting the space for the safety of guests and staff, or opening a food truck, need to know what permits are required and how to protect against worker or patron claims. We advised condominium associations how to safely and legally reopen their pools by posting updated rules, removing all furniture to discourage gathering, and considering getting releases signed.

Attorneys who yesterday drafted employment agreements today are being asked to advise how clients can legally breach the agreements without losing or harming their employees.

In the pandemic and post-pandemic era, yesterday’s rules won’t apply. Attorneys best serve clients with creative counsel. Does your attorney:

  • Think like your general counsel? Regardless of whether you have a general counsel, bringing a 360-degree view of a client’s legal needs and vulnerabilities can help identify and capitalize on strengths and opportunities and neutralize weaknesses and threats.
  • Think like an entrepreneur? Business owners are innovators. Their counsel must share that spirit of seeing beyond obstacles to find solutions.
  • Assess, not fear, risk? Risk exists. Skilled attorneys, accountants, and other professional services providers quantify it, weigh its impact on the situation, and then suggest various options.
  • Weigh and present all credible options? Your attorney’s role is not to tell you what to do. It’s to present reasonable options, with associated opportunities or liabilities of each.

For a business owner, turmoil can happen any time. Innovative legal solutions may be the path to survival.

This thinking is part of Tripp Scott's new Financial Distress Team. The group assists clients in addressing legal matters arising from financial distress and uncertainty in domestic and international crisis situations.

Matthew Zifrony is a director with Tripp Scott and practices in the areas of entrepreneurial business, commercial real estate, and condominium and HOA.

Fort Lauderdale • Boca Raton • Tallahassee
954.525.7500 • TrippScott.com