Massachusetts Law Firms, Nonprofits and Government Agencies Launch COVID Relief Coalition for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

April 10, 2020

Small businesses and nonprofits are facing a challenging climate as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts their ability to keep their workforce employed and their doors open. In response, a coalition of law firms, nonprofits and government agencies—led by Ropes & Gray and its longstanding pro bono partners Lawyers for Civil Rights and Lawyers Clearinghouse—has launched the COVID Relief Coalition to provide vulnerable businesses and mission-driven organizations with pro bono legal support. 

Today, the Coalition is pleased to also announce the launch of a new website that will support the Coalition’s mission by enabling small businesses and nonprofits to learn about and apply for emergency loans and other sources of relief. The website will connect eligible small businesses and nonprofits to free legal support by Coalition partners. 

Coalition partners include the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, City of Boston, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Boston Bar Association, The Boston Foundation, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Dechert, Fish & Richardson, Foley Hoag, Foley & Lardner, Goodwin, Goulston & Storrs, Mintz, Morgan Lewis and WilmerHale. 

Ropes & Gray and the United Way have hosted a webinar to alert and educate nonprofits on the emergency relief resources available to them. The presentation provided an overview for nonprofits on the Paycheck Protection Program, including details on key terms and the application process. A recording of the webinar can be accessed through this link

“This brain trust was formed to help small businesses and nonprofits navigate the challenging new climate,” said Ropes & Gray partner and pro bono committee co-chair Jenny Rikoski. “While there are a number of emergency relief sources available to both small businesses and nonprofits, the actual process of obtaining funding is proving to be complex and cumbersome to understand without sound legal advice. We are thrilled to launch this initiative to connect organizations in need with lawyers who can help them get much-needed aid as quickly as possible.”  

“Small businesses and nonprofits are the backbone of communities across Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “I’m grateful to the Coalition members for stepping up and providing the important information and legal support that these organizations need right now.” 

The need for funding is not the only challenge facing small businesses and nonprofits. They may also face other legal questions during the pandemic, including those related to real estate, tax and contractual issues, among others. The Coalition continues to recruit attorney volunteers with expertise in all areas of the law. Lawyers interested in participating in this initiative may volunteer through the Coalition’s website. 

Thank you to Ropes & Gray and the Coalition partners for spearheading this vital initiative,” said Priya Lane, BizGrow Director at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “Our small businesses are the economic engines fueling our Commonwealth. It is incumbent upon us in the legal community in this time of crisis to support small businesses and nonprofits. With free legal support, we will help them overcome challenges so they can thrive and contribute to a better tomorrow.”

“Nonprofits are facing myriad challenges while they continue to pursue their missions during this very trying time. We are grateful to Ropes & Gray and the Boston legal community and honored to be part of the Coalition to provide this valuable resource,” said Maribeth Perry, Executive Director, Lawyers Clearinghouse.