By Sabina Mollot
The city is throwing a legal lifeline to mom-and-pops by offering free legal help to some small businesses to help them negotiate leases.
On Tuesday, Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop, along with Council Member Robert Cornegy, announced the program, which will receive $2.4 million in funding over the next two years.
The program is expected to help 400 small business owners a year who couldn’t otherwise afford attorneys, but Bishop said it can grow if the demand for free legal help is higher than expected. Attorneys, who belong to organizations like the Urban Justice Center and Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation, will be assigned to individual businesses to help them resolve disputes before they end up in court. However, the attorneys, who are expected to provide an average of 40 hours of services per client, will not represent businesses in disputes that do end up in court.