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Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project Honors Proskauer Rose LLP for work on Sandy Relief Legal Clinic for Small Businesses

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

  • Organization: City Bar Justice Center

Earlier this year, dozens of attorneys from Proskauer Rose LLP stepped up to provide pro bono disaster recovery assistance to small businesses adversely affected by Superstorm Sandy in the South Street Seaport. The Seaport is a historically important economic hub in lower Manhattan located in Zone A of the FEMA Flood zone and as a result, was devastated by severe flooding during the storm.  Proskauer partner, Jon H. Oram and Firmwide Pro Bono Counsel Stacey Fahey, reached out to the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) to organize a program similar to NELP’s signature small business legal clinics.  Jon also reached out to his contacts in the area and invited Goldman Sachs and State Senator Daniel Squadron’s office to join the efforts to assist businesses in lower Manhattan.  And, in February and March of this year, Proskauer, NELP and Goldman Sachs combined their legal resources and, with the help of Community Board 1 and Senator Daniel Squadron’s office, held two legal clinics for South Street Seaport businesses recovering from Superstorm Sandy.

In preparation for the South Street Seaport clinics, NELP conducted an orientation at Proskauer’s offices on “Disaster Assistance for Small Businesses” which was attended by over 40 attorneys from both Proskauer and Goldman Sachs who would be volunteering at the upcoming clinics.  Through Daniel Squadron’s office, NELP was able to hold the clinics at the South Street Seaport Museum, which was one of the few businesses in the area that was operating.  During the two clinics local business owners met individually with teams of three to four volunteer attorneys to discuss their post-Sandy recovery issues.  The businesses were varied and included among them a pet grooming shop, hair salon, art gallery, florist and a number of restaurants.  The majority of the attendees needed assistance with insurance claims and commercial landlord-tenant issues.  Several were also seeking assistance with applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and wanted information on additional forms of financial assistance available to businesses post-Sandy.  The clinics were held one week apart, allowing attendees from the first clinic to return to the second with follow-up questions or additional paperwork for review.

“One of the most important outcomes of the clinics has been the ongoing pro bono representation that Proskauer Rose has provided to over a dozen small business owners, as a result of the clinics,” said Akira Arroyo, Director of the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project.  On their own, these small business owners might not have been able to expect a favorable outcome in the negotiations with their insurers and landlords, but with the pro bono support that Proskauer attorneys are providing, they have a much better chance of success, both in recovering from Sandy and in continuing to grow their businesses.  Proskauer’s Stacey Fahey added, “Many thanks to Akira Arroyo and the NELP team for their invaluable assistance with our South Street Seaport Hurricane Sandy pro bono project.  NELP and the CBJC played an important role in helping us to assist these struggling small businesses seriously impacted by Hurricane Sandy.”

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