Vermont Law and Graduate School steps in to offer legal help to flood-affected businesses

By MAX SCHEINBLUM

VTDigger

Published: 08-18-2023 10:21 AM

Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Entrepreneurial Legal Laboratory is offering free legal assistance to Vermont businesses trying to recover from last month’s floods.

The school has coordinated with volunteer attorneys across the state to provide up to 10 hours of guidance on everything from Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance and Small Business Administration loans to navigating insurance claims and appeals processes.

“Recognizing the immediate needs of Vermont’s business community following the floods, we realized that (the legal lab’s) existing resources could be leveraged to offer substantial assistance to those affected,” Nicole Killoran, director of the legal clinic, said in a press release. “By remodeling our pre-existing program and offering legal support during this critical time, we aim to help the community recover and rebuild effectively.”

The effort will be funded through grants from the Small Business Administration and a recent congressional grant, Killoran told VTDigger. The program was inspired by a similar one offered through the Vermont Bar Association, which is helping homeowners and renters along with small businesses.

Killoran will deploy the network across Vermont to meet with businesses in-person, wherever they may be. Businesses can request support from the legal lab and attorneys interested in volunteering can sign up through the Vermont Bar Association.

Killoran said the effort is right in line with the legal lab’s goal of providing Vermont small businesses with legal advice since it was established in 2018. Among other efforts, the lab has provided support to minority-owned businesses and received a federal grant to give legal assistance to “diverse and disadvantaged” small operations.

The lab is partnering with New Orleans-based Emergency Legal Responders, a nonprofit founded by Vermont Law graduate Caitlin Morgenstern that focuses on disaster rights advocacy. She will lead training for attorneys, ensuring they are well equipped to handle all FEMA and SBA matters, as well as any other legal issues that could arise.

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