LEGALCORPS

Empowering low-income entrepreneurs & nonprofits with FREE business law help they need to succeed

The LegalCORPS mission is about hope.  For LegalCORPS, low-income populations represent community assets to nurture, not problems to solve.

LegalCORPS provides access to the business law portion of our legal system for those who otherwise would 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. 

This video, focusing on the Inventor Assistance Program, provides great examples of the people LegalCORPS empowers.

For Give to the Max Day 2016, a group of law firms -- Gislason & Hunter, Henson & Efron and Lommen Abdo -- and a group of LegalCORPS board members together will match the first $3,000 donated to LegalCORPS 

Currently, LegalCORPS also is making a major effort to learn how to better serve immigrant, American Indian and other entrepreneurs of color.  LegalCORPS is developing joint programs with some organizations that promote business development in those populations.  

Partners with LegalCORPS in these efforts so far include the African Development Center, African Economic Development Solutions, the Latino Economic Development Center, Asian Economic Development Association, the Red Lake Nation Entrepreneur Program, and the CERT Program in St. Paul.  (To explain why we are making these efforts, 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.

In the first nine months of 2016, LegalCORPs volunteers provided assistance to 535 clients – whose households included at least 896 individuals. LegalCORPS accomplishes its work with a paid staff of less than 3 full-time equivalents.  Some examples of the assistance LegalCORPS provides:

Small Businesses:

  • The African American owner of an assisted living home got advice about taxation of it
  • A small business owner got tax and other legal advice about a large debt so he could continue his business and enter a new business partnership too. 
  • The owner of start-up music store received help in securing a trademark and drafting licensing agreements.
  • A Somali-American entrepreneur received guidance regarding trademarks and infringement protection for her fragrance and accessory business.
  • The creator of a healthcare invention received help in converting his business to a legal form of organization that would better protect his invention and assets as his company grows. 
  • An elder inventor got help to license her line of incontinence underwear for women.

 Nonprofits:

  • A civic group in Greater Minnesota dedicated to reconnecting military service members to the community received help with obtaining 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 got answers about employment law and volunteer positions
  • A small-town library organization received advice about bylaws and grants.

In the fall of 2016, the Aftican 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

© 2017 GiveMN | A registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.