Day one of the first ever Greenspoon Marder virtual Innovation Summit is in the books! With topics like tech innovations, the work from home revolution, estate planning and more, audiences enjoyed timely (and lively!) discussions throughout the day. In case you missed it, explore our session recaps below.
Government Permitting and Inspections in the Era of COVID-19
With a panel consisting of some of South Florida’s top minds in government, our speakers shed light on the technological modifications cities and counties have made to continue, although not always seamlessly, meetings virtually since the onset of the pandemic. In the discussion, Alain Boileau, City Attorney for the City of Fort Lauderdale stated that he has seen a significant uptick in the number of applications he has received, commenting, “Business has not slowed down, it was just delayed.” Sam Goren, Shareholder at Goren, Cherof, Doody & Ezrol, PA, provided his thoughts on whether the Florida governor will extend Executive Order 20-69, which suspended physical forums, stating, “I do not believe the governor is going to extend 20-69. The end result of which is we go back to physical forums.”
A hybrid model of in person and virtual attendance is what many have moved towards as the Florida governor continues to lift restrictions. “The silver lining to virtual public hearings for government permitting is that people can now call in and let their voice be heard,” commented Maite Azcoitia, Deputy County Attorney for Broward County. In closing, Dennis Mele, land use partner at Greenspoon Marder, anticipates continued growth including more applications, construction, and development, with home sales at a record high since the beginning of the pandemic. “You are going to see more activity, and now we have more ways to handle it if the volume continues to increase.”
The New Virtual Workplace – Unprecedented Legal Risks in Uncertain Times and Best Strategies to Navigate Them
Led by three experienced Labor & Employment professionals, this session discussed the various issues that COVID-19 has caused for both employers and employees and alike. “Many of these issues simply did not exist in this fashion prior to COVID-19 seven months ago,” said Peter Siegel, labor & employment partner at Greenspoon Marder. Speakers provided insights as to how to navigate working from home (which has now become the “epicenter of the American workforce,” according to Peter), reopening strategies, and how businesses should move forward as we prepare for 2021.
Updated employee handbooks with detailed policies addressing issues such as workers compensation, electronic communications, or employee chatrooms, was the primary suggestion made to combat some of the many legal challenges posed by COVID-19. “A handbook that was written in 1988 is going to be obsolete and ineffective; it will provide no benefit to you in the event of an employee challenge,” said Peter. For employees suffering from feelings of anxiety and isolation due to the pandemic, Eric Adler, VP and General Counsel of Advance Local, recommended daily communications and complete transparency. “There has been an alarmingly high referral rate to our EAP system,” said Eric. “You must speak to the employees who report to you on at least a daily basis,” he continued. Most importantly, speakers emphasized the significance of keeping employees safe and informed during these uncertain times.
A New (not) Normal Marketing Approach
We all had it. That “Oh S—“ moment during the pandemic when we realized things would never be the same. For business owners, though, this moment was particularly pronounced. Andrew Bernstein, CEO of Kinder Beauty, recalled a tearful moment with his wife when the weight of entrepreneurship (and a baby on the way) hit him hard. Kavita Sahai, CEO of 21 Drops, said it was when her team tried to contact Bloomingdales and the entire accounts payable department had been furloughed.
After a breath, though, these leaders got straight to work. “I’ve been so impressed watching my clients dig deep into the creativity well,” said Jenna Seigel, corporate partner at Greenspoon Marder. Kavita and Andrew both pointed to changes in communication methods with consumers, and identified more personalized approaches to marketing, including quizzes and tagging behavior.
“My biggest piece of advice is to fail fast and forward,” said Kavita. “You don’t know what’s going to stick right now, so try different things.” Andrew added, “Never act as though you know everything, always be aware that you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Trusts & Estates Innovation and Planning Opportunities: What to Do Right Now and What to Do Next!
Presented by industry leaders with extensive knowledge in Trust & Estate planning, this panel thoroughly detailed the major complications that COVID-19 has posed upon the IRS, tax return processing, client management, and the like. “What used to take a week now takes a month. What used to take a month now takes almost three months for almost everything we’re doing,” said Michael Bank, Managing Director at Holdun Family Office. Indeed, with the pandemic forcing so many individuals to work from home, and the highly confidential nature of this industry, COVID-19 has brought information processing across the globe almost to a halt.
To manage these issues and their clients’ expectations, the speakers suggested to be proactive, respectful, and to protect your clients’ businesses. “Our biggest of focus is that we’re staying in front of clients and that we’re being proactive instead of reactive,” said Fernando Pou, Managing Partner at Passerelle Partners. “What I’m trying to do in terms of our team and our clients is respect the fact that they’re trying to protect their families, understand that we’re instrumental in terms of protecting their businesses, and being incredibly proactive,” Michael expanded.
With the many intricacies surrounding the world of asset management, the speakers decided to close the session with advice for individuals and families moving forward. “Families need to put in place uniform agreements between family members about how future assets will be held,” said Carl Linder, international wealth & asset planning partner at Greenspoon Marder. “Mentor the second and third generations,” said Michael.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Tech Innovations Around Safety
Our group of esteemed leaders came together to discuss how companies across industry lines have made significant strides in technology, and what they see for the future of tech innovation. Panelists discussed the need for rapid diagnostics, and how several companies have been working to engineer overnight tests and mass testing to meet the demands of the entertainment, hospitality and other industries.
“The tech that’s coming in the next 10 – 15 years will be “simply mind blowing,” said Jeff Ransdell, Founding Partner & Managing Director of Fuel Venture Capital, when discussing what is to come. He highlighted the novel developments made in robotics and telecommunications, and how companies have taken years of strategy and condensed it to just months to develop new technology to adapt to the changing times.