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How Elizabeth Wente of Spencer Fane Puts Clients First During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Spencer Fane partner works with clients across industries including construction, manufacturing, hospitality and medicine.

by Lillian Stone

Apr 06 2020 at 8 a.m.

Elizabeth Wente of Spencer Fane
Photo courtesy Spencer FaneElizabeth Wente offers advice for helping clients across industries in tough times.

Biz 417: How is the pandemic impacting your clients?
Elizabeth Wente: My clients are primarily business owners, HR professionals or the general counsel for an organization. Right now, all of those people are having to make difficult decisions that impact the employees they work hard to advocate for. The laws we’re seeing come about as a result of the pandemic were put together quickly out of necessity, so there is a lot of room for interpretation—which is where I come in.

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Biz: What’s an example of the legislation affecting your clients?
E.W.: A good example is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which President Trump signed into law in March. It provides emergency paid sick leave which is supposed to be paid for with tax credits—but a lot of my clients are unclear as to how that process will work. Right now, my small business clients are primarily worried about maintaining cash flow while doing the right thing for their employees—making sure there’s still a place for them to come back to work when this is all over.

Biz: What’s your advice to someone working in a client-facing role in this unstable time?
E.W.: A lot of it is being available at weird hours. My goal has always been to try to be part of each client’s team, and a lot of them are in an emergency status that necessitates quick advice. Whether that means emailing clients from my phone or taking calls at weird hours, I’m going to do it. You do the best that you can, you do it with grace and kindness and you know that you’re providing more than legal guidance right now—you’re also providing emotional support, because many of these clients are making really hard decisions.

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