COVID-19 and Small Firm Practice: Q&A with James Fink

By Noah C. Hagan posted 03-23-2020 10:18

James Fink, of Fink & Fink PLLC, a small firm in Ann Arbor that handles a broad range of matters, recently answered a few questions about how COVID-19 has affected his firm and his practice.

1.   How is COVID-19 impacting your practice right now? How is your office handling meetings?

We have implemented reduced hours for part-time staff. The attorneys are mostly working remotely.  We have canceled all client meetings for the office and are either conducting meetings virtually or delaying meetings.

2.   Which clients are contacting you the most and what issues are they raising?       

We are hearing from our municipal clients and landlords.
Our municipal clients are concerned about limiting access to or closing public buildings. They are also working to ensure compliance with the Open Meetings Act, while ensuring the safety of their constituents and employees. A recent Executive Order from the governor has loosened OMA requirements during the State of Emergency. 
Property management clients are concerned about moving forward on pending cases, when to file new cases, and how to be supportive of their residents.  Some tenants have been laid off and are unable to pay their rent. Some tenants are asking to be released early from their leases, especially students. Landlords are also worried how to handle future summary proceedings in light of financial strains and court closures.  We are still filing cases, but we don’t anticipate having any court appearances for several weeks. Per the Michigan Supreme Court’s March 18, 2020, order, all district court civil proceedings are to be conducted remotely or they must be adjourned until April 3, 2020. Some courts are setting hearings for mid- to late April. 

3.  What other issues do you anticipate with real property transactions or other matters you handle?

Issues may arise because people do not want others in their houses for inspections, showings, and other in-person activities needed to move a transaction along.   I am expecting that municipal inspectors will either cancel scheduled inspections or be denied entry by tenants.
We also prosecute local ordinances for municipal clients.  Cases are being adjourned unless the defendant is in custody.  The Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-2 on March 18, 2020, limiting courtrooms to no more than 10 people, including staff. 



03-26-2020 09:38

IRS said on March 20 that employers may begin to take advantage of the credits in IR-2020-57, but then doubled back on the March 25th Q & As.

03-26-2020 09:35

Be aware that the Federal Paid Leave Act is not effective until April 1, 2020 and any employer paying personal leave before then is not eligible for the credit under new DOL guidance.