Women’s Business Development Center, Entrepreneur Works Team With Law Firm in Pro Bono Support of Local Emerging Ventures
PHILADELPHIA, PA (June 19, 2014) — The Philadelphia office of McCarter & English hosted a small business legal clinic Tuesday at which small business owners and entrepreneurs with pressing legal needs but little money to pay for them received pro bono legal consultation. The event was part of the LawWorks project run by Philadelphia VIP, one of the city’s top providers of pro bono civil legal services.
The event, which was co-sponsored by Entrepreneur Works and the Women’s Business Development Center, provided the entrepreneurs with professional and legal advice as they seek to navigate such legal issues as business structure, contracts, tax, intellectual property, real estate, employment, and risk management.
Many of the micro-entrepreneurs are enrolled in the Women’s Business Development Center’s NxLeveL for Start-Ups, a 10-class series that helps get new businesses up and running, or associated with Entrepreneur Works, a non-profit organization focused on growing businesses and jobs in local communities.
McCarter focuses a significant portion of its pro bono efforts in Philadelphia on bringing together volunteer attorneys from its own ranks and across the city to work with local entrepreneurs who need business law assistance but cannot afford it. The firm multiplies its pro bono efforts by partnering with other law firms and with organizations like Entrepreneur Works and the Women’s Business Development Center, which aims to foster the development and retention of successful business by delivering resources that enable individuals to start new businesses and strengthen existing ones.
“The defining principle of our legal system is the promise of equal justice under the law for all. Yet there remains a crisis of unmet legal needs in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia-based McCarter corporate attorney Philip Amoa, who spearheaded last night’s event. In his commercial practice, Amoa represents start-ups and investors that fund them.
A member of the Board of Directors of Philadelphia VIP, Amoa added, “The support we received from all the attorney volunteers who were willing to spend time providing free legal advice to local businesses goes a long way toward addressing that discrepancy and will help get local businesses off the ground by making these crucial services available.”
In all, there were approximately 60 attorney volunteers, including 30 from McCarter, as well as in-house counsel from other local companies such as Cigna, FMC, Aramark, Aetna, DuPont, TE Connectivity, Pep Boys, Exelon Business Services Company, and Open Systems Technologies. The volunteer attorneys were paired with the entrepreneurs for one-on-one meetings to discuss immediate and ongoing legal matters ranging from choice of entity, contracts, and tax matters, to intellectual property, real estate, and employment issues.
Business ventures of the entrepreneurs at the event included a start-up women’s clothing company, a local bakery, and a day care company.