Federal Bar Association/Small Business Administration
Export Legal Assistance Program
What is the Export Legal Assistance Network?
With a presence in 70 U.S. cities and with the participation of more than 250 attorneys, the Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN) program is a nationwide group of attorneys in private law firms that volunteer to provide an initial legal consultation free of charge to companies just beginning to export. Under ELAN, knowledgeable lawyers help new export companies learn the legal aspects of international trade, issues relating to export licensing, domestic and foreign taxation, tariffs, and intellectual property rights are just some of the topics covered.
What are the services that an ELAN lawyer will provide?
In your first meeting, the volunteer ELAN lawyer will help you identify the key legal issues facing your company in exporting. The volunteer will explain basic contractual requirements, taxes and regulations and give you introductory information on other necessary resources, such as banks, freight forwarders, insurance companies, and state and federal programs to expand exports. Your consultation will last long enough to identify the legal issues facing your product or service.
This free consultation is meant to provide a reasonably detailed overview of the legal issues involved in exporting. You are then free to handle the next steps yourself, or to hire an attorney to complete them for you.
What can I expect to get out of my meeting with a volunteer lawyer from ELAN?
An indication of the key legal issues which your business needs to address in making its first export sales. The lawyer should be able to help you to understand basic contractual, tax and regulatory requirements, provide an indication of priorities among them, and provide some basic information on programs of other institutions which might be helpful in getting export operations started, e.g., international department of a near-by bank, freight forwarders, insurance companies with international experience, and other helpful government programs. The lawyers will work closely with the district offices of the U.S. Commerce Department and Small Business Administration.
How long will my consultation be?
Long enough to allow you to identify the export-related legal issues related to your product or service and to demonstrate that, like other business problems, they are divisible into manageable pieces which can be resolved within a reasonable time at a foreseeable level of cost. ELAN wants you to feel comfortable with the legal aspects of exporting.
What won’t the lawyer do for me?
This free consultation is not intended to have the lawyer draft contracts or enter into deep analyses of specific pending issues. It is intended to provide an overview and a reasonably detailed discussion of the legal problems involved in entering the export market.
Do I have any obligation, financial or otherwise, to the volunteer attorney?
Absolutely not. If the free consultation has achieved its purpose, you will have an idea of the next steps required. You are entirely free to handle them yourself, to hire another lawyer, or to use the volunteer attorney. The choice is entirely yours.
Why are these attorneys involved in the program?
As professionals and as Americans, ELAN attorneys are interested in improving the U.S. balance of payments and securing the future of our country in international trade.
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