Epstein Becker Green Leaders Discuss the Impact of COVID-19 on Clients and the Firm

The American Lawyer

Mark E. Lutes, Chair of the firm’s Board of Directors, James P. Flynn, Managing Director of the Firm, and David W. Garland, Member of the Firm and Chair of the firm’s National Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Steering Committee, discuss the impact of COVID-19 on clients and the firm in The American Lawyer, in “Heath Care and Employment Focus Spells Busy Times for Epstein Becker & Green,” by Dan Packel. (Read the full version - subscription required.)

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Following is an excerpt:

While many full-service law firms contend that their diverse offerings keep them well-hedged in times of upheaval, it’s fair to say that many of their practices have stumbled into a quiet phase.

Other, more specialized players are finding that the current economic and public health crisis sparked by the coronavirus plays directly to their practice strengths.

That’s the case for 250-attorney Epstein Becker & Green, which offers clients a dual focus on health care and employment law. The timing of the firm’s 10-month old alliance with Deloitte Legal has also proved fortuitous, giving clients access to the Big Four firm’s worldwide capabilities to help navigate an emergency that’s indifferent to national boundaries.

Washington, D.C.-based chair Mark Lutes; Newark, New Jersey-based managing director Jim Flynn; and New York and New Jersey-based national employment, labor and workforce management steering committee chair David Garland spoke with ALM this week about what their workload currently looks like.

I imagine it’s been a very busy couple of weeks for all of you.

Jim Flynn: It really has been. Our core areas of labor, employment and health care are at the nexus of what’s going on here. And our lawyers have been in extremely high demand, simply for health care entities to continue to function, protect their own workers, protect patients and deal with all of these new things.

Do you have any specific examples?

Mark Lutes: I think there’s two phases that we have a unique position in. One is the immediate needs across our client base. The second is those that are beginning to emerge: we’re hearing a lot of interest, particularly from investors in health care and some of the providers that are online, in what the post-corona or less-acute phase is going to look like. There is an immediate short-term need to work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to get what CMS would call regulatory flexibility, so that operations can continue even in situations where normal access points to caregivers aren’t available. We are fielding innumerable questions now from investors and from providers about how they should prepare to access the funding that has been made available by Congress to eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses or lost revenues that are attributed directly attributable to the coronavirus.

JF: Let me use the telemedicine, telehealth example. Mark talked about making sure that regulatory-side people are doing it the right way, getting the right approvals. More importantly, from the client perspective, is being able to get paid for it. What we bring to that is then the ability to say on the labor and employment side, “Is your staff trained to do it? Is this helping and increasing social distancing? To the extent that you’re in a unionized setting, is there anything we need to do to make sure that we can implement this and have your employees trained to do it, whether those are physicians, nurses, physician assistants or nurse practitioners?”

When did you realize the potential for disruption to your client base posed by COVID-19? And did you take any measures to ramp up?

JF: We posted one of our first articles about the potential impact of COVID-19 in January, so we were a little ahead of the curve.

David Garland: A lot of firms have put together what they refer to as resource centers. But because of the nature of our firm, our resource center combines probably more material on the labor and employment and the healthcare side than any firm. What Deloitte brings to us, as well, is the global perspective on what’s happening. We did a webinar about 10 days ago, where we had Deloitte speakers from, among other places, China. One of the things the speaker from China told us was that public schools just reopened in his region in Shanghai.We’re trying to anticipate some of the things we’re now seeing in the United States, so we’re trying to provide some notion of where the light may be at the end, and we were doing that at a time before a lot of these lockdowns were in place.

Related reading:

March 30, 2020, "Wake Up Call - Lawyers, Law Firms,"  by Rick Mitchell:

Epstein Becker & Green, the 250-lawyer health-care and employment focused firm that hooked up with Deloitte Legal last year, is seeing “extremely high demand” during the Covid-19 crisis.