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From the Vault Published July 27, 2021

VIP’s LawWorks Strengthens Philadelphia’s Communities

Two decades into VIP’s history, the Philadelphia legal community faced a problem: how do we enlist transactional lawyers in pro bono, which had historically skewed towards litigation work?

In 2001, a diverse group of legal services stakeholders established LawWorks, a transactional pro bono program to be overseen by VIP. LawWorks was a vehicle for VIP’s homeownership and nonprofit/small business work — two arenas in which VIP volunteers still make a difference today.

Ever since, VIP has been the only provider of pro bono legal services for nonprofits and small businesses in Philadelphia. Our volunteers help these clients apply for trademarks, review contracts, obtain tax-exempt status, and more. In turn, the nonprofits and small businesses that form the backbone of Philadelphia’s economy can operate with legal security and peace of mind.

VIP’s program to support nonprofits and small businesses has been empowering our communities from the outset. In 2005, VIP reported:

In providing pro bono services to community groups and nonprofit organizations, we allow them to direct their funding (and most often they are operating on very thin budgets) toward carrying out their missions and serving their clients. Likewise, in assisting low-income small business owners, we help to strengthen the backbones of our neighborhoods, stimulating commerce and bringing business services directly to neighborhood residents.

VIP continues to improve accessibility for our nonprofit and small business clients, as they are among the few clients who can apply directly to VIP for help. Accordingly, VIP staff and volunteers regularly host community education and outreach events, and our website boasts a suite of resources for organizations seeking legal help.

Over twenty years since the birth of LawWorks, VIP volunteers are still a crucial resource to our city’s small businesses and nonprofits. To leverage your own business law experience to empower these clients, please email Evy Cruz, VIP’s Nonprofit & Small Business Coordinator.

Volunteers and client at a small business clinic (2013)

The LawWorks model (2001)