City Bar Justice Center Launches Pro Bono COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic

The City Bar Justice Center has launched a pro bono, remote legal clinic to help small businesses understand and access options available under the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus package and other opportunities available through federal, state and local programs. 

Through the Justice Center’s Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP), the Small Business Remote Legal Clinic will offer qualifying small businesses in New York City free 45-minute consultations with pro bono attorneys who will also answer broader legal questions on circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics covered will include loans, grants, business contracts, labor and employment, commercial leasing, tax, and insurance.  

The Justice Center’s website has an online form for prospective small businesses to fill out if they would like assistance through the remote clinic. For City Bar members and attorneys at Justice Center-partnering law firms and corporate legal departments wishing to volunteer, they can complete a volunteer registration form. 

The Justice Center clinic is the kickoff of a larger nationwide project in conjunction with Lawyers for Good Government and dozens of law firms. The Justice Center has partnered with the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis to launch the project in New York City, and with several other law firms, including Cleary Gottlieb, Mayer Brown, Orrick, Proskauer, and Sullivan & Cromwell, who are providing training for the volunteers and information sheets for small businesses. 

“We are thankful that the experience of our Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project and law firm and in-house partners strongly positions us to spring into action to help small businesses in these unprecedented times,” said City Bar Justice Center Executive Director Lynn M. Kelly. “Our communities and our economy itself depend on the health of our small businesses.”  

NELP is run by its founder, Akira Arroyo, who began the project after 9/11 to help small businesses disrupted by that tragedy, and in the nearly 20 years since has assisted over 15,000 small businesses with corporate formation, contract and a range of other legal advice.

NELP’s success owes in part to its longstanding partnerships with community organizations that assist small businesses, as well as dozens of law firms and corporate legal departments that supply volunteer attorneys to work with the program. 

Organizations interested in providing pro bono legal support to the COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic or other crisis response initiatives should contact the Justice Center’s Pro Bono Counsel, Kurt M. Denk, at covidresponse@nycbar.org 

More information is available on the City Bar Justice Center’s website here 

The City Bar Justice Center, the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association, increases access to justice by leveraging the resources of the New York City legal community. 

The Justice Center operates the city’s busiest legal hotline and annually provides direct legal representation, community education and advocacy to over 26,000 New Yorkers in areas including immigration, homelessness, veterans assistance, housing, elderlaw, cancer advocacy and entrepreneurship. www.citybarjusticecenter.org 

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