Lawyers providing free legal help to Wisconsin small businesses struggling during the pandemic

The Wisconsin Bar Association’s small business clinic launched last week
Published: Feb. 7, 2021 at 8:04 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Brent Prechtl bought out his business partner in January of 2020 becoming the sole owner of an organic vegan restaurant in downtown Green Bay.

“I took 100 percent ownership, full ownership of the business obviously not expecting for covid to happen with everything that’s gone on this year, so it has been a tough year,” Prechtl, who owns Nectar, said.

He said he didn’t qualify for any of the federal relief because of a technicality. Once he took full ownership of Nectar, he obtained a new federal employment identification, which made his restaurant a new business in the eyes of the government.

Yet, Nectar has been around for more than four years. New businesses were excluded from the initial round of federal stimulus.

“I definitely think that there should be a way for me to reach out to someone, explain my situation, and given my situation I think people would understand it,” Prechtl said.

That’s where the Wisconsin Bar Association’s small business clinic steps in.

“These owners are struggling and the last thing they need to do is to spend money on legal fees,” Patricia Lane, an attorney based in Milwaukee who is part of this effort, said. “We are here to help them.”

Launched last Friday, the state bar association will connect business owners with a professional lawyer and a Marquette University law student.

They’ll give businesses an hour’s worth of legal advice on any issue excluding ongoing litigation or forming a corporation.

“Most of the questions surround the mask mandate and what needs to be posted, a lot of questions deal with labor matters relating to that,” Lane said. “Employees not feeling comfortable working yet the business owner needs employees.”

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, one in four small businesses will close in the next five months if the economic climate doesn’t change.

For Precthl, he’s staying optimistic. “We’re pulling little positives from this negative situation, trying to worry about the things we can control.”

If you’re interested in more information, here’s a link to the state bars association’s website:

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