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Small Businesses

Small businesses are the backbone of Philadelphia’s economy – they create job opportunities, generate tax revenue, and bring services directly to residents in their neighborhoods.

The Community We Serve

When faced with the costs of startup, payroll, and customer development, small businesses often reach an insurmountable hurdle when they need business law services to formally incorporate or resolve other legal issues. Small business owners confront the choice of using their limited resources to hire an attorney, or proceeding on their own and risking liability.

For eligible small business owners, VIP resolves this dilemma by providing the free legal assistance necessary to form and maintain sustainable organizations.

Esta página también está disponible en español.

Our Service Models

Philadelphia VIP offers free legal assistance to small businesses — typically family-owned businesses and other small enterprises, or new entrepreneurs with plans for businesses that could thrive in their communities — through two different service models.

One-Time Consultations

Our Small Business Legal Assessment Clinics offer business owners the chance to meet with a volunteer attorney for a free, one-hour consultation. These sessions provide a personalized assessment focused on the business’s most critical legal needs.

After the clinic, eligible small businesses may receive ongoing legal assistance with the legal need(s) identified and discussed at the clinic.

Visit our events page to view upcoming clinics.

Full Representation

Small business owners seeking help with a specific legal need can apply to VIP for no-cost representation by a volunteer attorney. Common issues handled by our volunteers include incorporation, contract drafting, trademark filing, policy revision, zoning permits, and more. To apply for full representation, please complete the form at the bottom of this page.

Note: VIP volunteers do not handle cases in which the owners are in a dispute; if a small business has multiple owners, all of the owners must be in agreement about the legal need being pursued. VIP volunteers also do not handle small business matters involving litigation or non-specific legal needs/general legal counseling.

Client Testimonial

Philly Bread

Pete first connected with Philadelphia VIP’s LawWorks program through several of its Small Business Clinics. During the clinics, Pete received legal counsel from volunteer attorneys on both employment compensation agreements and early considerations in identifying and securing a new location.

In 2018, confident that Philly Bread was ready for a bigger and more permanent home from which to serve the Philadelphia community, Pete asked LawWorks to find him a volunteer attorney for expert assistance in negotiating a new lease.

Philly Bread's VIP Story
 
 

I kind of struck gold with Anthony. He would say ‘whatever you need help with, just ask me.’

Eligibility for Legal Help

To be eligible for VIP’s services:

  1. The small business must be located within Philadelphia
  2. The business owner(s) must have household income at or below 300% of the federally-defined poverty level

 

Application

To apply for legal assistance from VIP, please fill out the form below. Una solicitud en español está disponible aquí para los solicitantes que la necesiten.

After you complete the form, a VIP staff member will reach out to you to confirm your eligibility and gather more information related to your legal need.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the application process, please contact Ivelisse Cruz, Nonprofit & Small Business Coordinator, at icruz@phillyvip.org or 215-523-9565.

 

  • LawWorks Application — Small Business