(Reuters) - More than 30 law firms, including Kirkland & Ellis and Willkie Farr & Gallagher, have pledged to provide free counsel to small businesses to help them navigate coronavirus relief options, as part of a new program launched by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation.
The coalition of 34 law firms, which also includes Goodwin Procter, Covington & Burling and Steptoe & Johnson, will offer small businesses free 45-minute consultations with attorneys in a L4GG’s Small Business Remote Legal Clinic. Its pilot program launches in New York City this week, L4GG said in a statement on Friday.
”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,” said L4GG executive director Traci Feit Love, in the statement. “This small business legal clinic can help them navigate this unanticipated economic crisis.”
The coronavirus, which can cause the sometimes fatal respiratory disease COVID-19, has led many states to order residents to stay at home, shuttering all but essential businesses in an effort to slow its spread.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $2.2 trillion aid package to help people and businesses cope with the economic downturn, that includes about $350 billion in lending for small businesses.
In the wake of massive economic disruption caused by the pandemic, many U.S. legal groups have in recent weeks prepared for a surge in the need for legal aid.
The New York State Bar Association on Monday announced it is building a statewide pro bono network of lawyers. The American Bar Association launched its own coronavirus task force earlier this month.
Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison’s chairman Brad Karp earlier this month organized a relief team of more than 350 of the firm’s lawyers to help Americans facing economic hardships due to COVID-19, and several other firms are counseling non-profits on related matters, they have told Reuters.
Law students are stepping up, too. More than 2,500 students have signed up for a project that matches them with lawyers who need pro bono help on cases and projects related to the coronavirus pandemic, the group’s founder, Alyssa Leader, a third-year student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law, told Reuters on Thursday.