Maldonado Law expands practice areas to address post COVID-19 shut down needs of small businesses in Florida and launches new website.

Released by the Firm. May 19, 2020 -Coral Gables, FL

The Law Offices of Edward A. Maldonado, P.A. has announced the launch of an online website (available at www.postcovidlegal,com and designed to expedite the assessment of legal alternatives and work-out options for financially distressed small businesses impacted by Florida COVID-19 shutdowns. The law firm’s post COVID-19 practice aims to provide Florida entrepreneurs and business owners with better practical options that are otherwise lost by simply closing doors, walking away, and seeking bankruptcy. 

“The idea is to help our small business clients use every legal tool in the toolkit before even thinking of shuttering down,” said founding attorney Edward A. Maldonado. “I read the federal CARES Act the day after it passed into law. It was clearly rushed under pressure. Its directives were too wide ranging and inclusive of scale to target the real segment of small businesses honestly impacted by the statewide shutdowns here in Florida. This meant small businesses and their owners will need to fight harder in the months following any return to business. The shutdown was a paradigm shift for all businesses, re-opening after shutdowns will be another.  Everybody will need to be more creative about the legal options we have at hand going forward,” he added.

To accomplish the goal of providing more legal work-out alternatives, the firm has reached out to other lawyers, law firms and professionals to join forces when needed to address the problems that can overwhelm small business clients post shutdown.

These include Florida board certified attorneys, long-standing practitioners in areas such as commercial leases, collections, consumer defense, tax, employment law, real estate and insurance, as well as professionals focused on finance and asset sales should the ultimate option be to sell a business instead of closing doors. The firm’s approach in assembling such professionals is to get the business owner the most proficient help they may need to implement work-out options. 

“There are a lot of knots to untie to help businesses through this. The problems Florida small businesses owners were already fending-off before the shutdown were diverse and unique to their operation. The shutdown seems to have exacerbated those problems while presenting new ones on top,” Maldonado continued.  “So I reached into my rolodex built over 22 years of practice with one basic question – if I personally was facing that kind of problem to which professionals would I turn for help.  I then contacted them with the idea and they were onboard.  No one law firm can handle everything.  Each has its strength of practice.  Referrals to others may be necessary to really get the business owner the help that is needed based on their particular challenges.”     

The firm has also dusted-off the books and drilled into little used legal options that are still available under Florida law. This has included commercial work-out options that haven’t been frequented in decades that provide win-win scenarios for landlords and tenants, creditors, and even those with issues with governmental agencies alike.  This has involved re-visiting Florida law on standard Force Majeure clauses in leases, business loss claims under insurance, reasonable offers and compromises as to debts under similar situations to the shutdown, and the use of Florida’s Assignment for Benefit of Creditors law to provide alternatives to federal bankruptcies and allow time for work-outs.

“Our priority is the entrepreneur or owner themselves, so to continue in business or re-start afresh,” Maldonado said.  “Many owners have propped-up their businesses through personal credit cards or have taken on personal guarantees to secure leases, inventory, fixtures, and even software systems to operate.” 

The firm recognizes that federal bankruptcy is not a quick or complete option in all instances. “Owners may not be able to take a personal bankruptcy combined with a business bankruptcy. This can be for a number of reasons. Maybe their books and accounting aren’t in a good place for that, maybe they simply do not qualify, and maybe it’s just a matter of re-working targeted liabilities like contracts and debts to avoid bankruptcy altogether.” 

The firm also understands that bankruptcy can also have restrictions for entrepreneurs and owners on starting anew. This can impact both timing and re-building credit.  The Florida shutdowns also stand to flood the federal courts with new bankruptcy filings.  The waiting time for final discharge may take longer that typically going forward. “Timing will be everything for resolution of financially distressed business, and, that timing may need to be stretched out because at a practical level it’s not on the fast-track.  Florida small businesses may need to fight-the-good-fight in the meanwhile.”  

Maldonado also believes that exhausting commercial work-outs first can benefit all involved. He sees that emerging from the COVID-19 shutdowns will require all sides working together. “Inasmuch small businesses are feeling the shutdown crush, creditors and landlords are in the same boat. Commercial landlords don’t want empty commercial spaces, this mean a harder road for them to re-lease while bearing the property taxes and maintenance costs in the interim. Nothing is really gained by a For Rent sign on the front of the property. Creditors may also deem it a prudent and profitable alternative to forebear on particular debts or take partial payments until the economic situation stabilizes.  Nothing is known to those ends until it’s explored.”     

The recently launched website allows Maldonado’s law firm to understand some of the basic facts and issues to make initial consultations more efficient and effective.  “The site was developed to be easy to complete and quick to target the most critical needs to review how we can help, and if w cannot, how can we get the small business a referral to a professional who can.”  The website involves a three step process asking questions that would typically consume the first ten to fifteen minutes of an initial consultation.  It provides the attorneys with a snapshot of the business and its most pressing post-shutdown financial and legal concerns.  This allows Maldonado’s law firm to delve into potential work-out options more quickly or determine that referral to another attorney or profession is first necessary or even in instances were a bankruptcy referral is required.  All consultations are scheduled by email with the firm and no unscheduled calls or consultation on Post COVID legal services will be taken without an appointment through the website.

Links to the Post COVID intake sites are:

www.postcovidlegal,com and

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