Sometimes even those who work in “Vacationland” need a hand. At Eaton Peabody, the firm’s Hospitality Services Group is ready to provide that support for those who serve others.
That’s because Hospitality Law doesn’t begin and end with black fly season. And it doesn’t impact strictly seasonal businesses. According to the staff at Eaton Peabody, the hospitality industry drives billions of dollars in annual sales of goods and services and employs over 140,000 people throughout the state.
In fact, the “hospitality industry” encompasses five major employer categories: lodging, restaurants, experiential businesses, health, and travel. So it’s no surprise that Eaton Peabody attorneys work with business owners on a variety of issues.
That’s one reason why Eaton Peabody has started a new internal group: Hospitality Services Group. The attorneys who make up this particular group include David M. Austin, Esq., Christopher E. Goodwin, Esq., P. Andrew Hamilton, Esq., Matthew S. Raynes, Esq., Jeffrey W. Spaulding, Esq., Matthew C. Worthen, Esq., and Consultant Tanya Bentley.
“More and more attorneys in our practice are growing around [hospitality],” said Eaton Peabody’s P. Andrew Hamilton, Esq. “One thing that’s great about this is that it’s about the client. We’re in business to serve the client.”
Hospitality law, Hamilton said, is more than just working with hotels, restaurants, and seasonal work. It also encompasses areas that are practical to business owners, including construction, design, permits, licenses, employment law, commercial loans, workforce housing and contracts.
By tapping the experience of lawyers already in tune with these needs, the Hospitality Law arm of Eaton Peabody can provide a team of experienced professionals working together to ensure success for the business.
“The advantage with Eaton Peabody is that we are truly a full service law firm in the hospitality industry,” Hamilton said. “We have [lawyers] that do everything from permitting the construction of a guest house to attorneys handling defense claims brought against any member of the hospitality industry. We can provide a full spectrum of services in one place.”
Couple that advantage with offices located in the hospitality hotspots of Bangor, Ellsworth, Brunswick, and Ellsworth, and it’s an advantage that’s hard to ignore. Further enhancing the new Hospitality Services Group is marked growth within the hospitality industry, including the development of degree programs in hospitality at Husson University, the University of Maine, and Eastern Maine Community College.
According to Hamilton, these programs are training the next generation of business owners that need to be acquainted with the legal aspect of running a business in the hospitality field. Add to that a thriving arts community in Maine, and there couldn’t be a better time to launch this specific legal services group.
“We want the tourism and hospitality sector to know that we have the capabilities, interest, and experience to serve them,” Hamilton said.
That’s important to note, said attorney David M. Austin..
“Hospitality law practice is not new,” Austin said. “We have been helping [businesses] in the hospitality and tourism industry for years. This [new group] was developed in large part because of a concerted effort to focus and grow with [the industry] in terms of clients.”
According to Austin, the development of this new internal group is a focused way of discussing challenges and successes of clients in a team environment.
“We’re sitting down and talking more about what are clients are facing,” Austin said. “This is a value-added service. It’s important that we’re communicating with each other while focused on the industry, monitoring changes and laws, as well as trends affecting this industry. This is not just an ad hoc committee. We’re planning around the sector. Just as these businesses are planning, we’re planning too.”
Sometimes, Austin said, that planning comes from helping a business transition from generation to generation. “We can help them with all phases of their business’s life cycle.”
Depending on the region, hospitality can be a major economic contributor.
Case in point: Ellsworth’s resurgence as a destination for business, life, and leisure.
According to Matthew Worthen, an Eaton Peabody attorney based in the firm’s Ellsworth office, Ellsworth is in the midst of a cultural and economic renaissance.
“Ellsworth is positioned as a service center for the region,” Worthen said. “It was the largest growing city in Maine last year, and there’s no doubt that tourism services are an absolute driver.”
Another driver, Worthen said, is the leadership of the area. In his job with Eaton Peabody, he represents business owners from a variety of economic sectors. Worthen is also on the Ellsworth economic development council and is involved with the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce. As a resident of Ellsworth, he understands that being in touch with the area’s challenges is imperative to helping business owners thrive.
“One of the benefits of Eaton Peabody is that we have a large legal firm with attractive specialities,” Worthen said. “We are now better able to provide client updates and advice on changes in the law. This is a collaborative effort. We’re rewiring how we can connect with each other and how we deliver that experience to the client.”