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Pro bono attorneys offering audience amid COVID-19 drama

Like most small businesses and nonprofits, COVID-19 hit the Asheville Community Theatre hard–the theatre was left without an audience and had to cut its payroll by 70 percent.

The nonprofit has no human resources department, so its director, Tamara Sparacino, had to handle the resultant legal issues. Sparacino turned to webinars for guidance but found them lacking in specifics. She found an audience in Kayla Frederickson, an attorney with Kilpatrick Townsend in Raleigh, which is part of a consortium of law firms that banded together in April to help small businesses and nonprofits hammer through new legal challenges that the novel COVID-19 slammed upon them.

The North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center’s COVID-19 Small Business/Non-Profit Initiative has provided legal advice more than 100 small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 25 employees, said Sylvia Novinsky director of the North Carolina Pro Bono Resources Center, which is leading the initiative along with Lawyers for Good Government.

The center curates cases and assigns them to attorneys from Alston & Bird, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, Kilpatrick Townsend, Mayer Brown, McGuire Woods, Nelson Mullins, and Winston & Strawn, who provide 45-minutes of pro-bono advice.

“I feel fortunate to be in a position to use my education and experience to help small businesses and nonprofits throughout the state at a time when they really need it,” Frederickson said.

Many of the questions have to do with unemployment issues, and Novinsky  said that she expects the attorneys to see more questions regarding bankruptcy as the pandemic continues.

The resource center is also sponsoring pro bono opportunities for attorneys to create living wills and power of attorney documents for healthcare workers on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis through its Frontline Health Planning Project. More information is available at ncprobono.org

Bill Cresenzo

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