U.S. International Education Response and Resilience Webinar Series

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The U.S. Commercial Service Global Education Team is offering the “U.S. International Education Response and Resilience Webinar Series” to address the COVID-19 health crisis affecting the U.S. international education industry.

The first webinar will be held the afternoon of April 15 at 3 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. CDT; 1 p.m. MDT; 12 p.m. PDT). Participation is free of charge. The topics addressed in this webinar include:

  • U.S. Education Industry Support for International Educators in Response to COVID-19 — Joann Ng Hartmann, Senior Director, IEM-ISS Services, NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • Admissions Schedule and Requirement Changes — Mallik Sundharam, Associate Vice President, International Enrollment Management, Northeastern University and Eileen Tyson, Executive Director, TOEFL & GRE Global Client Relations, ETS
  • U.S. Commercial Service Virtual Programs — Gabriela Zelaya, Global Education Team Leader, U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Small Business Administration Disaster Relief Program for U.S. Education Sector
  • Feedback Session

Register for the webinar here: https://emenuapps.ita.doc.gov/ePublic/event/editWebReg.do?SmartCode=0QHS

For questions, please contact Gabriela Zelaya at gabriela.zelaya@trade.gov.

*Future topics will become available in the coming weeks. Additional topic suggestions are welcome.

COVID-19 Relief Information for Small Businesses from U.S. Department of Commerce

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Notarization During the COVID-19 Crisis

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Laura Linfante

Pam Deeds Stewart

By Lori Linfante and Pam Deeds Stewart

The COVID-19 crisis has not affected the Notary law in North Carolina. However, the NC Secretary of State’s Office has issued guidance on how to comply with the in-person appearance requirements in this time of practicing social distancing. Some steps that can be taken to reduce exposure to the Notary and the principal (“signer”) are the same as the recommended COVID-19 precautions we should all be practicing such as not shaking hands, cleaning your hands often, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and keeping a 6-foot distance from others. Specific suggestions when notarizing documents are to not share pens (ask the signer to use their own pen), viewing the identification from the tabletop instead of touching the identification, and standing at the opposite ends of a long conference table. Some firms are offering curbside notary services or other outside options as ways to keep their employees and clients safe. These Notary challenges will be increased for parties that reach an agreement while they are participating in a mediation conducted via electronic means. It will be a process of getting the documents to each party at their location and then having them signed and notarized.

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Pro Bono Opportunity From Home

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By Sarah Schtakleff 

As we all search for ways to help others during this difficult time, consider volunteering your legal skills on NC Free Legal Answers. See more information below on this opportunity as well as other resources, some of which were included in your weekly e-bar email.

NC Free Legal Answers: Pro Bono From Home

The NC Bar Foundation’s web-based program NC Free Legal Answers facilitates remote pro bono legal services to North Carolinians. Help low-income individuals by answering their brief family, housing, employment and consumer law questions. A growing number of COVID-19-related questions are being posted, including questions about custody rights under stay-at-home orders and rights to recover pre-paid daycare payments due to closures. Attorney volunteers are needed and registration is easy. Contact NCBF Pro Bono Staff Attorney Jeanine Soufan if you have any questions.

As a reminder, the NCBA provides resources to support members in various ways:

  • COVID-19 Updates and Resources
  • BarCARES focuses on improving the mental health and overall quality of life for NCBA members, local bar groups, and law students, offering no-cost assistance in dealing with personal, family, financial, work, and career stressors. Visit BarCARES online or call 800-640-0735 to arrange a telehealth or telephone appointment.

Work in the Time of COVID-19: FAQs for Employers

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Kelsey Mayo

Kate Dewberry

Jennifer Parser

By Kelsey Mayo, Kate Dewberry, and Jennifer Parser

Employee Benefit Questions

If I furlough or layoff employees, can I continue some or all of their benefits during the leave?

There may be ways to continue some or all benefits during a furlough or layoff. Each plan is unique, however, and the exact terms must be reviewed. Many plans include a provision that employees be “employed” or “actively at work” and, therefore, employees may lose eligibility under the terms of the plan if they are not performing services. In addition, service requirements for eligibility (such as offering benefits only to employees working at least 30 hours per week) may cause an employee to lose eligibility during a temporary leave (but not in all circumstances). However, many plans include specific provisions extending eligibility during leaves of absence (including unpaid leaves) or following layoffs. Thus, each plan must be reviewed to make this determination.

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Fight Hunger, Help Others in the COVID-19 Pandemic – Participate in the Legal Feeding Frenzy and Support Your Local Food Bank!

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Sarah Schtakleff

Will Quick

By Sarah Schtakleff  and Will Quick

We are in unprecedented times with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and many of us are wondering what we can do to help those without regular access to food. Even in the best of times, however, over 1.5 Million North Carolinians struggle with hunger—of those nearly half a million are children. With public schools and many religious and nonprofit organizations that traditionally serve the food insecure in our communities being closed for indefinite periods and government leaders calling for social distancing to help limit the spread of Coronavirus that need is never more pressing than now.

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North Carolina Resources: COVID-19

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By Jill D. Moore

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government continues to monitor COVID-19 and has created the following website for North Carolina-specific resources: https://www.sog.unc.edu/resources/microsites/north-carolina-public-health-law/nc-legal-resources-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19. The website will be updated regularly with new resources.

The Legal Consequences of COVID-19 on Your Contracts: Force Majeure in Different Jurisdictions and Industries, and Some Practical Guidance

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This article has been republished with permission from K&L Gates.

By Christopher Tung 

INTRODUCTION

The novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) outbreak has resulted in robust mitigation and containment measures being taken by countries around the world and is having significant and broadening negative impacts on business activities. From a legal perspective, these negative impacts may make it difficult or impossible for parties to a contract to perform their obligations. However, a great deal depends on the nature of the event and its impact on the specific contract and its performance by the parties.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, the virus and associated actions to contain it are affecting countries and industries differently. The high number of infections in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) has caused the government authorities there to take strong measures which have substantially disrupted and decreased economic activity. Travel into and out of the PRC has been restricted, and international supply chains have been disrupted. Similar measures may be taken by an increasing number of countries before the outbreak finally subsides.

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Webinar Opportunity: Learn About China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative

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On March 31, the National Association of District Export Councils is hosting a webinar from 1-2 p.m. EST on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Cost is $35 and more information can be found here.

CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

Update on Business, National Security and Geopolitical Impact

The National Association of District Export Councils (NADEC) is pleased to invite you to hear from experts on the China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive global development strategy involving infrastructure development and investments now in some 152 countries. Participants include international organizations and countries throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific islands, and the Americas (Central and South). In addition to an update on BRI’s progress across the world, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on trade and investment will be discussed.

This program is the first in a series of three presented by the NADEC and is intended to provide the participant with a comprehensive overview of the BRI’s true magnitude and its potential control of global commerce.

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Russian Competition Regulators, Mount Up: Russian Authorities Crack Down on Anti-Competitive Agreements With Uptick in Criminal Liability for Antitrust Violations

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This article has been republished with permission from K&L Gates.

Just one month into the new year, Russian courts have already handed down three new criminal judgments for violations of anti-competition laws, a stark contrast to previous years that often passed without a single conviction for cartel agreements. Over two decades after Russia introduced criminal liability for cartels, this increased activity could signal that the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation (“FAS”) is finally beginning to focus on criminal sanctions for cartels—prosecutions that it has long shied away from. Russia’s expanded focus into the enforcement of criminal antitrust laws may be felt most heavily by the construction, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries, where procurement procedures and auctions are particularly vulnerable to cartel manipulation.[1] These actions could foreshadow an increased era of Russian enforcement or a backlash against foreign companies doing business in Russia.

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