When Citigroup Inc. associate GC David Goldberg began knocking on the doors of New Orleans’ small businesses this winter, he found local store owners who were left with nothing after Hurricane Katrina. Many of the people he spoke with were skeptical of legal assistance and confused by the idea of pro bono help. But seven months and several trips later, Goldberg and other attorneys have assisted nearly 1,000 small businesses in securing relief. And that’s just for starters.
Since January, about 25 of Citigroup’s roughly 500 U.S.-based attorneys have logged 350 hours on Katrina-related pro bono work. Besides Goldberg, another 15 in-house lawyers have made a total of five trips to the Gulf Coast — four times to Mississippi, to work in legal clinics for Katrina victims, and once to Louisiana, to help establish a relief organization for small businesses. Even staff lawyers at the New York-based financial services giant who couldn’t travel to the Gulf Coast pitched in by working on appeals to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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