The Association of Pro Bono Counsel Launches Inaugural Legal Expo to Provide Free Legal Counseling for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

Small Business Legal Academy is the First Free Legal Expo of its Kind in New York City; Corporate Law Firms, Financial Services Consultants, City and State Agencies and Other Service Providers Join Forces to Provide Services

New York, NY, September 09, 2013 – Today, the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo), a membership organization of full-time pro bono counsel and coordinators at major commercial law firms, announced it will hold the inaugural Small Business Legal Academy, a free all-day expo to provide legal counseling to small business owners and nonprofits throughout New York City. To be held at Harlem’s World Famous Apollo Theater on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, the Small Business Legal Academy is the first free legal expo for small businesses and nonprofits in New York City.

The one-day event will bring together corporate law firms, financial services consultants, city and state agencies, and other service providers to provide free consulting services, lead workshops about starting and managing a business or nonprofit, and find solutions for small business owners to the legal and financial challenges facing organizations.

“Small businesses and non-profit organizations sited in and serving the city’s low-income communities are indispensible to providing residents there not only with goods and services, but with jobs and the opportunity to permanently improve their lives and their children’s lives,” said Kevin Curnin, an APBCO board member and a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, where he directs the firm’s Public Service Project. “As we’ve seen, legal and other support is critical to this transformation. The Small Business Legal Academy is a novel attempt to offer impactful services to a high volume of diverse start-ups and micro-entrepreneurs, with a collaborative model we hope to replicate in New York and other cities.”

The inspiration for this project grew out of a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and the Board of Directors of APBCo in September 2012 to discuss issues of access to justice and the role of pro bono attorneys in the delivery of legal services to the poor, including innovative collaborations between law firms, legal services organizations, bar associations and the judiciary. As a result, APBCo initiated a long-term project to seed and launch a series of new collaborations across the country designed to expand national law firm efforts to increase access to justice.  The APBCo IMPACT (Involving More Pro bono Attorneys in our Communities Together) Project is already taking root in eight urban centers, from Seattle to New York, with the objective to design innovative and sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services. The Small Business Legal Academy is one of several APBCo IMPACT projects in New York City.

“More than half of the small businesses that we work with have critical legal issues to resolve in the next three months,” says Jennifer DaSilva, founder and executive director of Start Small Think Big, a nonprofit in the Bronx that helps low-income entrepreneurs in New York City start and grow small businesses. “Unfortunately, high fees typically prevent many of these businesses from getting the legal help that they need when they need it. The Small Business Legal Academy offers our clients―and all the other small businesses out there in New York City who are having trouble finding the right attorney at the right cost―with an unparalleled opportunity to access desperately needed legal help from many of the best law firms in this city, at no cost. No business should miss out!”

Business owners and nonprofit leaders will have the opportunity to address their legal needs in workshop settings as well as during individual consultations. Workshop topics include:

                     Legal Essentials for Small Businesses

                     Contracts and MOU Issues

                     Not-for-Profit Formation

                     Employment Law and Personnel Management

                     Intellectual Property Issues

                     Commercial Leasing Issues

                     Legal Essentials for Small Businesses

The Small Business Legal Academy is brought to you by APBCo in partnership with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation; The City Bar Justice Center; Lawyers Alliance for New York; The Legal Aid Society; New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; Pro Bono Net; Start Small, Think Big; Urban Justice Center; and Volunteers of Legal Service.

For more information about the Small Business Legal Academy or to register for the event, please

About Association of Pro Bono Counsel

Association of Pro Bono Counsel (“APBCo”) is a membership organization of full-time pro bono counsel and coordinators at major commercial law firms. APBCo has over 125 members from more than 85 law firms nationwide, including many AmLaw 200 firms. APBCo is dedicated to improving access to justice by advancing the model of the full-time law firm pro bono counsel, enhancing the professional development of pro bono counsel, and serving as a unified voice for the national law firm pro bono community (
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