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Arnold & Porter and James Beard Foundation Join Forces to Support Restaurant Employees and Owners Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

April 10, 2020

In conjunction with the James Beard Foundation, more than 70 Arnold & Porter attorneys in Washington, DC, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver are offering pro bono assistance to restaurant workers who have lost jobs or had hours reduced following business closures in the wake of COVID-19.

Arnold & Porter is providing individualized assistance on a range of issues including unemployment benefits, CARES Act relief, food stamps, TANF, other federal and state public benefits programs, and the interrelationship between immigration status and qualification for benefits. In addition, a team of Arnold & Porter transactional lawyers is providing business law counseling regarding economic recovery efforts to individual small business restaurant owners.

"After speaking with employees at a restaurant that is an important part of my Silver Spring neighborhood, I wanted to figure out how we as lawyers could assist the waiters, cooks, dishwashers, hostesses, bartenders, and the many other individuals who work in the restaurant industry, as well the restaurant owners, who have felt the immediate impacts of the economic disruption" said Dan Cantor, who chairs the firm's Pro Bono Committee and is leading the firm's pro bono efforts regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry. "When I suggested building a nation-wide team to provide assistance, I was so proud to have more than 70 Arnold & Porter attorneys step up, as well as numerous legal assistants and administrative staff, and volunteer their support."

"This support is incredibly important to every small business owner and restaurant worker in the industry who may not have the resources at this time to get professional legal guidance," said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation. "Together with Arnold & Porter, we're doing everything we can to ensure that the employees and industry survive this pandemic and back working in their communities as soon as possible."

According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 60% of the 701,000 jobs lost by Americans in March 2020 came from restaurants and bars, which were required to close down in a number of states in an attempt to stem the pandemic. The National Restaurant Association reports that roughly 50% of restaurant operators anticipate having to lay off more people in April.

Cantor noted why this is so challenging for restaurant workers and why legal assistance is critical, "Large numbers of unemployed hospitality industry workers now find themselves having to understand complicated regulatory programs that are constantly changing as local and federal leaders attempt to respond to the public health and economic crisis. We are honored to help."

The James Beard Foundation and other organizations are providing information about Arnold & Porter's pro bono services to restaurant owners and associations for circulation to their employees. Firm lawyers are speaking with individual employees, assessing their needs, and providing individualized assistance as appropriate. The assistance ranges from providing a quick answer to assisting in evaluating qualification for a given benefits program to full representation during an appeal. Arnold & Porter also is providing educational webinars about available benefits in order to share information with large numbers of individuals.

In addition, Arnold & Porter has recently launched an additional pro bono program to provide individualized counseling to small business restaurant owners as they try to recover from the pandemic-related closures. The program is pairing individual restaurant owners with firm transactional lawyers, who will assist with agreed to business counseling, including without limitation the availability of CARES Act loans. The goal is to provide small restaurants that could not otherwise afford business law counsel with experienced advisors who can help identify the best means to a quick and sound recovery.

About Arnold & Porter

With nearly 1,000 lawyers practicing in 14 offices around the globe, Arnold & Porter serves clients across 40 distinct practice areas. The firm offers 100 years of renowned regulatory expertise, sophisticated litigation and transactional practices, and leading multidisciplinary offerings in the life sciences and financial services industries.

About The James Beard Foundation

The James Beard Foundation promotes good food for good™. For more than 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives. The organization is committed to giving chefs and their colleagues a voice and the tools they need to make the world more sustainable, equitable, and delicious for everyone. For more information, subscribe to the digital newsletter Beard Bites and follow @beardfoundation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City.