For information and resources see our COVID-19 Support Page. If your small business or nonprofit needs COVID-19 related legal or capacity building help, contact us.

Volunteer Attorney Covid Clinic Information

Covid-19 Small Business and Nonprofit Legal Clinic

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Hundreds of Washington small businesses and nonprofits, many of whom operate on narrow margins, are managing questions about how their businesses will survive the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only do these businesses provide necessary services in our communities, they provide employment, job training, and other benefits. Their survival is essential to strong neighborhoods. We’re building a coalition of lawyers to provide pro bono legal consultations (by phone or video) to work with small business owners and nonprofit leaders dealing with diminished revenues or closures due to Covid-19.

In April 2020, we launched our Covid-19 Legal Clinic in partnership with Lawyers for Good Government, Orrick, and Perkins Coie. As we continue our outreach efforts, we expect the number of legal requests to increase in the upcoming weeks.

What is the Covid-19 Legal Clinic? 

  • A streamlined system to address the large number of requests by small businesses and nonprofits to help them navigate their business challenges created by Covid-19 in the state of Washington.
  • It consists of phone or video limited engagements – 60-minute consultations.
    • Relationship can become full representation afterward as an option.

Who are the clients?

  • Small Businesses 
    • 50 employees or less
    • Business has experienced distress due to Covid-19
    • Less than $2 million in annual revenues or have a significant reduction in revenue, and must have a compelling reason for why they cannot afford legal services
  • Nonprofits 
    • WA state nonprofits
    • 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations or fiscally sponsored organizations
    • Less than $2 million in annual revenues or have a significant reduction in revenue, and must have a compelling reason for why they cannot afford legal services

Areas of needed expertise

  • Federal loan/grant programs (CARES Act and FFCRA)
  • General employment questions (furloughs, leaves, layoffs, etc.)
  • Commercial leases (lease amendments/lease termination)
  • Insurance and risk
  • Contracts (non-performance, amendments, etc.)
  • Bankruptcy, business closure, dissolution
  • Nonprofit law and IRS regulations on tax-exempt organizations

How does it work?

  • Register online for this clinic — even if you are already a Communities Rise volunteer, you will need to register through the national website to get into our platform that is specific to volunteering for this clinic.
    • Here are some instructions and tips to fill out the online form:
      • You will be asked to select a “City” or region. Select “Washington State” to be included in this Communities Rise Covid-19 Legal Clinic program.
      • You will be asked to identify your “Law Firm”. There is a long list of law firms and corporate departments to choose from. Select your firm or corporate department if it is listed. If your firm/corporate department is not listed select “Communities Rise Volunteer” option.
      • You will be asked to select the “Topic Areas” of expertise. Because we expect a high volume of requests and will not be able to provide supervision or consultation with you (training and resources will be provided), please pick topic areas where you have at least 2 years of experience. Note, we recognize that no attorney has 2 years experience with the new federal funding opportunities and we will provide training and resources on the federal funding opportunities available under the CARES and Families First Coronavirus Response Acts.
  • Watch a training video on emergency federal funding under CARES and FFCRA (to be provided after registration as a volunteer).
  • Once you have registered
    • Wait to hear back regarding client assignments
      • You will be added to a database of volunteers and will be selected for assignments based on your area of expertise as it matches to a particular client need.
      • You will be notified via email (by an Orrick or Perkins partner) when you have been paired with a client.
    • Reach out to the client within 24 hours of assignment
      • Schedule a phone or video call using your own phone or video system.
      • Submit scheduling update form through the online volunteer portal.
    • Conduct consultation
      • Complete your client consultation at the scheduled date/time selected by you and the client.
        • Communities Rise has resources to share for providing consultations with cultural competency.
    • Complete post-consultation form
      • After you complete your consultation, we will ask you to complete a “Post-Consultation Form,” which will tell us what was discussed and whether there is any follow-up with the client that is required on our end.

What to expect as a volunteer

  1. How long are the clinic phone consultations? The phone consultations are approximately 60 minutes long. For clients who speak a different language than you, it will be longer to allow for interpretation time (also see below for information regarding interpretation services).
  2. How many phone consultations can I take on? You can let us know your availability and capacity for the number of phone consultations that you can assist with. It can be whatever range you are able to take on.
  3. Are there trainings and resources available to me? Yes! We have the training videos on the federal funding sources along with many other resources available to volunteer attorneys. More information on training and resources will be sent to you once you register as a volunteer.
  4. How will I know who my client is and what their issues are?
    • Orrick staff will be helping us do the administrative work to make the client assignments. We will do our best to match the client needs with your area of expertise.  
    • You will receive an email from Orrick staff with your assignment and all the client information, including a description of their legal need.  
    • You will need to contact the client within 24 hours of receiving the assignment email to schedule a time with the client.
    • You will then have to complete a form (link will be in the email) letting us know when the client meeting is scheduled for.
  5. Do I need to do a conflict check? Communities Rise is a Qualified Legal Services Provider or “QLSP” under WSBA rules. We believe that the Communities Rise Covid-19 Legal Clinic is a short-term limited legal services program sponsored by a nonprofit and falls within the purview of WA RPC 6.5, Please read the rule to determine whether you need to do a conflict check for this program.  
  6. What happens if my client doesn’t speak the language I speak? Communities Rise will provide a phone interpreter service to be on the phone with you and the client. We are hoping that volunteers who are bilingual will be available to connect with clients and converse in the client’s home language or be interpreters.  We are also asking volunteers to identify what languages they speak when registering for the clinic.  
  7. Does Communities Rise provide malpractice insurance to cover attorneys if they need it? Yes, Communities Rise has professional malpractice insurance for our volunteers on our Communities Rise matters and clinics.
  8. What happens after I consult with the client? After you complete your consultation, we will ask you to complete a “Post-Consultation Form,” then you’re done!
  9. What if I am not licensed to practice in the state of Washington? This clinic is limited to attorneys who are licensed in the state of Washington. Unfortunately due to the fast-paced nature of this clinic, we are unable to pair attorneys who are licensed out of state with a Washington State licensed attorney.

Have additional questions? Send us an email at covidsupport@communities-rise.org