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NYC to offer free legal services to small business owners

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Each business owner can get up to 40 hours of free legal assistance

Murray’s Cheese has been a Bleecker Street stalwart since the 1940s.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As more and more mom-and-pop shops are forced to make way for chain stores, the city is stepping in to offer some assistance. The city’s Department of Small Business Services has launched a free legal service to help small businesses with issues concerning their leases.

“Small businesses are the economic heart and soul of this city and they deserve every opportunity to succeed,” said Mayor de Blasio, in a statement. “The Commercial Lease Assistance Program will give small business owners the help they need to resolve legal issues without driving them out of business.”

Through this program, small business owners will be able to get advice on issues like negotiating a lease, responding to an eviction notice, and breach of contract disputes, among other issues.

The central tenet of the program is to help prevent small business owners from ending up in court. However if the business owners are taken to court, they city will not be able to offer legal representation at that time point.

The program is being made possible through $2.4 million in funding for a two-year period. The program will enable the city to offer up to 40 hours of legal service to each client. These legal services will be offered in partnership with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, Volunteers of Legal Services, and the Urban Justice Center, and businesses can determine if they’re eligible by looking on the Commercial Lease Assistance Program’s website.

“Small businesses don’t have legal teams like the big guys do, but we are making it clear that the City stands in their corner,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, in a statement.