NYSBA is Seeking Pro Bono Attorneys for Commercial Landlord Tenant Mediation

By Christian Nolan

NYSBA is Seeking Pro Bono Attorneys for Commercial Landlord Tenant Mediation

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Good afternoon Members,

To further help small businesses avoid evictions, the New York State Bar Association is proud to announce its participation in the Commercial Eviction Prevention Partnership to provide mediation for landlords and commercial tenants facing eviction.

The initiative provides commercial tenants and small business landlords with pro bono legal services, and the information needed to reach a mutually agreeable lease renegotiation. Volunteer attorneys will be paired with clients affected by the pandemic shutdowns who want to settle commercial leasing issues using alternative dispute resolution.

The program is part of the New York Forward Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership – a public-private partnership between Empire State Development, the nonprofit Start Small Think Big, and the New York State Bar Association. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans for the partnership in December.

Regarding the Commercial Eviction Prevention Partnership, which includes participation from the New York State Unified Court System, judges may divert certain cases that meet defined criteria into a mediation session, providing both parties an opportunity to come to a resolution prior to further litigation in court.

Eligible participants will have access to pro bono legal counsel to represent them during the eviction mediation process. Creating a mediation path will help small businesses avoid costly litigation and further promote agreements between landlords and tenants.

“While businesses want to stay current on their rent, the terms of leases that were established pre-COVID may make it financially impossible for them to do so as the pandemic drags on,” said NYSBA President Scott M. Karson. “The New York State Bar Association has enlisted the services of volunteer attorneys, who are ready to help willing businesses and landlords renegotiate and reach a solution that works for everyone. We are providing these services free of charge because a strong economy is in everyone’s best interest and helping New Yorkers in need is the highest calling of our profession.”

Attorneys interested in volunteering may click here to sign up. (NYSBA membership log-in required before accessing.)

NYSBA’s participation is part of its COVID-19 pro bono network coordinated in partnership with the New York State Court System. The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force oversees the network and is chaired by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, of counsel at Latham & Watkins.

For more information about NYSBA’s pro bono network and the ways attorneys can volunteer to help handle a surge in legal matters resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic fallout, click here.

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