30 March 2020

Top US firms sign up for Covid-19 small business legal clinic project

Pic of a closed shop in New York

New York: the programme to help small businesses impacted by Covid-19 will start in New York this week

Kirkland & Ellis, Goodwin Procter among firms to join Lawyers for Good Government pro bono initiative

More than 30 US law firms have agreed to support a nationwide legal clinic programme to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Kirkland & Ellis, Goodwin Procter and Covington & Burling are among those that have signed up to the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation’s Small Business Remote Legal Clinic, which will offer pro bono consultations and advice on the US government’s $2trn Covid-19 stimulus package and other pandemic-related legal issues.

Jacqueline Haberfeld, pro bono counsel at Kirkland & Ellis, said: “Almost out of the blue, small businesses are suddenly struggling for their very survival. It is the professional duty of the legal community to come together to offer advice and guidance to them so that they can continue to provide incomes for their employees, and goods and services to their communities.”

A pilot programme is due to launch in New York this week and will then be rolled out in 29 other cities across the US over the coming weeks. 

Firms will provide guidance on the funding options available through the stimulus package and assistance on applying for grants and loans on offer through various federal, state and local programmes. The Covid-19 stimulus bill, which was passed by Congress last week, includes $350 billion in financial support for small businesses.

Traci Feit Love, executive director at Lawyers for Good Government, said: “Hundreds of thousands of small business owners, many of whom already operate on very narrow margins, are struggling with questions about how their businesses will survive the Covid-19 pandemic. This small business legal clinic can help them navigate this unanticipated economic crisis, and provide them with guidance they desperately need at this time.”

Other firms involved in the project include Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, and Kramer Levin. Small businesses must have 25 or fewer employees to qualify for the free 45 minute consultations. 

Feit Love added: “Not only do these businesses provide necessary services in communities all over the country, they provide employment, job training, and other benefits to so many hard-working Americans. Their survival is essential to the strength of our economy and vital to our communities, and it is critical that we do whatever we can to help sustain these businesses and their employees until this crisis subsides.”

Further reading on the Covid-19 pandemic

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US businesses 'clamouring' for guidance on fast-moving Covid-19 crisis, survey finds

Staff welfare, supply chain and privacy: the coronavirus-related issues keeping GCs awake at night

'I have realised how powerful technology now is': an Italian lawyer's take on Covid-19

Coronavirus risk may be unprecedented, but the fundamental principles of crisis response still apply

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