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Low-Income Entrepreneurs Legal Assistance


PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 9, 2010

ABLE and Equal Justice Works Join Forces to Offer
Low-Income Entrepreneurs Legal Assistance

Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Anneliese Gryta is fighting poverty and working to strengthen Toledo's economy with the launch of the Microenterprise Legal Assistance Project at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE). The project provides free legal services for entrepreneurs who cannot afford an attorney. While the services are available to all eligible Lucas County small business owners, the project focuses on entrepreneurs in neighborhoods that are most in need, such as the Lagrange area, the Old South End and the Old West End.

PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 9, 2010

ABLE and Equal Justice Works Join Forces to Offer
Low-Income Entrepreneurs Legal Assistance

Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Anneliese Gryta is fighting poverty and working to strengthen Toledo's economy with the launch of the Microenterprise Legal Assistance Project at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE). The project provides free legal services for entrepreneurs who cannot afford an attorney. While the services are available to all eligible Lucas County small business owners, the project focuses on entrepreneurs in neighborhoods that are most in need, such as the Lagrange area, the Old South End and the Old West End.

While the economic downturn has hurt communities throughout the county, Toledo has been particularly devastated as many residents face foreclosure and businesses shutter their doors. ABLE has worked with Equal Justice Works to secure funding for the Microenterprise Legal Assistance Project, which is uniquely suited to help build assets in neighborhoods hit the hardest.

"While there are many fantastic business training programs in Toledo, such as the Small Business Development Center at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, SCORE and ASSETS Toledo, they are barred from providing legal advice. The Microenterprise Legal Assistance Project at ABLE provides an essential missing piece. For example, we can provide legal counsel to those hoping to negotiate a commercial lease for retail space, navigate regulations to start a home-based day care, or draft employee policies and procedures," says Gryta. "This service is imperative for small business owners to succeed."

The Microenterprise Legal Assistance Project provides help in multiple ways, including extended representation, through ABLE or by arranging a placement with a qualified pro bono attorney. The project will also hold a variety of community based small business legal clinics, the first of which will be held on Wednesday, November 17 at Assets Toledo. As a part of the project, Gryta will also be conducting a series of educational presentations on small business legal issues.

"Olivia Holden, executive director of ASSETS Toledo has been instrumental in advocating for this type of a legal services program, and we partner with the organization frequently," adds Gryta. ASSETS Toledo is a program that provides business training and technical assistance through a 13 week entrepreneurial training course. Gryta is also working with ASSETS Toledo to establish a new microloan fund for Toledo small businesses.

Anneliese Gryta is an attorney with ABLE and is the recipient of an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. The project is sponsored by the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation. Those interested in assistance should call ABLE's Legal Aid Line at 419-724-0460.