Empowering low-income entrepreneurs & nonprofits with FREE business law help they need to succeed
The LegalCORPS mission is about access and opportunity. We strive to support individual and family well-being, community-building, and to drive economic development by strengthening small nonprofits and assisting low-income business owners.
LegalCORPS provides access to the business law portion of our legal system for those who would otherwise be left out. LegalCORPS is a small, independent nonprofit that arranges free assistance in non-litigation business law matters to low-income entrepreneurs, innovators, and small nonprofits throughout Minnesota. It does so exclusively through the services of volunteer business and patent lawyers.
LegalCORPS has recently developed an initiative to better serve immigrants and entrepreneurs of color. Partners include the African Development Center, African Economic Development Solutions, the Latino Economic Development Center, Asian Economic Development Association, Appetite for Change, and the CERT Program in St. Paul. For background information on this initiative, we made this video in 2014.
The assistance LegalCORPS arranges can serve
as “preventive medicine” for legal problems that can be catastrophic for a
venture (which might be individuals’ and families’ sole means of financial
support). LegalCORPS volunteers provide free services with:
- Full-Representation Assistance for individuals or nonprofit organizations (Income guidelines apply.)
- Brief Advice Clinics – free, confidential brief advice on business law issues at sites across the state
- Inventor Assistance Program – helping Minnesota innovators get U.S. patents for their innovations.
- Nonprofit Legal Needs Assessment: -- helping Minnesota nonprofits assess whether they need to take action to ensure that their organizations and operations are on sound legal footing.
LegalCORPS volunteers provide assistance to over 500 clients per year. Some examples of the assistance LegalCORPS provides include:
- A food truck owner received advice on licensing and entity formation.
- A Somali-American entrepreneur received guidance regarding trademarks and infringement protection for her fragrance and accessory business.
- An inventor received assistance in securing a non-provisional patent.
- A small business owner received advice on employment vs. independent contractor status.
- A volunteer attorney conducted a workshop for second generation immigrants who will soon be taking over their parents' food businesses.
- A civic group in Greater Minnesota dedicated to reconnecting military service members to the community received help maintaining tax-exempt status.
- A community group focused on providing all children with the opportunity to learn how to read received legal advice regarding intellectual property.
- A Native American organization working to preserve ancestral teachings and empower future leaders received advice on risk management.
- Operators of a nonprofit thrift store received answers about employment law and volunteer positions
- A small-town library organization received advice about bylaws and grants.
Last year the African Development Center presented LegalCORPS its 2016 Hussein Samatar Community Service Award, thanking “an organization without whose support the African business community would be hampered.”
Donors' support is essential to enabling LegalCORPS to help connect its volunteer lawyers with clients striving to achieve a real stake in the American dream, and with those working to improve their communities through nonprofits.