In response to the spread of COVID-19, Ballard Spahr has created a program offering free legal advice to business owners, entrepreneurs, people who were thinking of starting businesses, and anyone who might have legal business questions.
The Entrepreneur Legal Relief Program was launched late last week by the law firm with offices around the country, including Philadelphia, to ensure that entrepreneurs and the business community have the resources and counsel required to endure the current coronavirus crisis.
Through the program, Ballard Spahr attorneys will offer free legal advice to any entrepreneur, waive the first $2,500 of legal services, offer discounted services on any following work, and make connections between entrepreneurs and area investors and mentors.
While the fund was created with entrepreneurs in mind, “we will talk to anyone,” Business and Transactions Partner Greg Seltzer told Technical.ly.
The Philly-based Seltzer also leads the firm’s Emerging Growth and Venture Capital Group, which supports its accelerator programs for startup companies: Ballard Academy for Student Entrepreneurs and Project SING (Seed, Incubate, Nurture, Grow). (In his spare time, the local arts enthusiast founded the Philly Music Fest and Tech Tour events, too.)
“People are in need right now,” Seltzer said. “We wanted to get the message out that our lawyers are standing by ready to talk to anyone who needs help whether it’s people who were laid off, business owners, or people who were about to launch a business.”
In addition to legal services and advice, Seltzer said that his team is working on some aspects of business support that are more qualitative — setting up meetings, making business connections and introducing entrepreneurs to investors.
That includes setting up a time for folks to be social in the way a networking happy hour would allow for those natural connections, Seltzer said. Next Wednesday, the firm is planning to host a virtual social hour to network, share stories and connect while staying remote.
Since launching the program late last week, the firm has enrolled about eight clients seeking advice or council. Three main topics keep coming to the forefront, Seltzer said.
Much of the conversations in the program so far have revolved around financing — the City’s loan or grant program, working with angel investors or finding other resources during this time.
Another section of work is comprised by the usual corporate legal work, like contracts and negotiations. And many folks are also concerned about what to do for their employees during this time.
“It’s not just all about layoffs or furloughs, there’s complicated legislation too, about paid sick leave,” Seltzer said. “We’re trying to figure out how we can help people or employers who want to treat their employees well.”
Ballard Spahr has offices around the country, and Seltzer said the Entrepreneur Legal Relief Program is also taking shape in cities like Denver and Minneapolis. In Philadelphia, there’s a team of seven or so senior and junior associates totally dedicated to the program for the foreseeable future.
For those interested in learning more or are seeking legal advice, Seltzer said they can reach out to attorneys Kim Klayman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Shonterra Jordan (email@example.com).
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