Legal Services for Entrepreneurs (LSE)

Legal Services for Entrepreneurs is an economic justice and community empowerment project of the Lawyers’ Committee that was founded in 1997 by attorneys who recognized that a small business’s long-term viability may be jeopardized when it forgoes legal assistance on fundamental business matters. Utilizing a multi-pronged approach, LSE works with entrepreneurs who are starting or have existing business. We also partner with community organizations in economically distressed areas throughout the Bay Area in their efforts to sustain and improve the local business climate so their communities can flourish.

LSE PROVIDES

  • Trainings and workshops: Our workshop series addresses a range of legal issues entrepreneurs face when starting a new business, or growing an existing one.  Topics include issues most commonly facing small businesses: business entity formation, employment law and hiring 101, commercial leasing basics for small businesses, and intellectual property.  We also offer financial empowerment workshops on credit and banking. Click here for a schedule of upcoming workshops or contact Miya Saika Chen at mchen@lccr.com or 415-543-9444 x236.
  • Clinics and one-on-one attorney consultations: We offer consultation services to entrepreneurs who have legal questions related to a start-up or existing businesses in Oakland, San Francisco, and throughout the Bay Area. Click here for a schedule of upcoming clinics and information on signing up for a consultation.
  • One-on-one legal representation: In partnership with Bay Area law firms and corporate legal departments, entrepreneurs in need of legal assistance are matched with experienced business attorneys who provide their services free of charge. Some examples of the types of business law matters we will help with are: entity formation, intellectual property, commercial leases, employment issues, and customer and supplier contracts.
  • Community economic development:  We partner with organizations in Oakland and San Francisco to achieve equitable community development solutions that serve and empower diverse and low income communities of color.
  • Community Business Resiliency Project: Launched in 2014 in response to the increased displacement of low-income community businesses and residents, we provide legal services to strengthen and retain diverse small businesses (“mom and pop shops”) in commercial corridors of the Bay Area where gentrification is a force for displacement. The project focuses LSE commercial lease advisory services on low-income, immigrant business owners in the Mission and other areas of San Francisco and Oakland.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR LSE?

  • Low-income individuals, including women and people of color, who want to start or develop for-profit businesses
  • For-profit businesses committed to investing in economically distressed communities
  • Existing small businesses (“mom and pop shops”) at risk of shutting down
  • Click here for information about upcoming workshops and trainings. To learn about other opportunities through our Economic Justice program, please call: Miya Saika Chen, at (415) 543-9444 ext. 236 or email mchen@lccr.com.

ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES

  • Combining direct legal services with policy advocacy and impact litigation strategies, LCCR advances the rights and builds the economic power of people of color, immigrants and refugees, and low-income communities. When reviewing an application for services, LSE will consider both the individual and his/her business’s impact on the surrounding community and provide services that benefit an economically distressed community.
  • LSE recognizes that women and minority business owners often face special obstacles to forming their own business and/or to accessing legal and other services necessary to expand a business. LSE makes a concerted effort to ensure that its eligibility criteria do not perpetuate these barriers or otherwise unfairly exclude any business from equal opportunity.

To Apply

For more information on how to qualify for LSE’s services, please complete the LSE Application. Or contact us at lse@lccr.com or 415.543.9444 x217.

Or you can fill out the PDF application form and email or mail it to us:

RESOURCES

Lawyers’ Committee works in collaboration with a variety of legal service and community organizations throughout the Bay Area. Below is a list of other organizations that may be able to help you.

  • Alameda County Small Business Development Center offers classes, consulting services and business planning resources for small businesses throughout Alameda County.
  • AnewAmerica serves primarily low-income new Americans (new citizens, immigrants, and refugees) residing in the Bay Area.  It offers a comprehensive three-year program of support for new start-up entrepreneurs including microbusiness incubation, asset building, and social responsibility.
  • La Cocina supports low-income food entre­pre­neurs as they for­mal­ize and grow their busi­nesses by pro­vid­ing afford­able com­mer­cial kitchen space, industry-specific tech­ni­cal assis­tance and access to mar­ket oppor­tu­ni­ties. Their focus is primar­ily on women from com­mu­ni­ties of color and immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.
  •  Mission Economic Development Agency: provides business technical assistance, loan packaging, and advocacy targeted at minority- and women-owned businesses in the Mission District of San Francisco.
  • Oakland Business Assistance Center provides information on licenses, permits, and zoning in Oakland.
  •  Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center: provides small business training and support services to emerging and established entrepreneurs in San Francisco, Marin, and the Mid Peninsula.
  • Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) provides business mentorship counseling and specialized assistance for free.
  • Small Business Administration dedicates its energy and resources to providing support to small businesses and small-business owners across the nation.
  • TMC Development Working Solutions: provides underserved micro-entrepreneurs with the access to capital and resources they need to successfully start or grow viable businesses. TMC Development Working Solution strives to support microenterprise development in an effort to strengthen the local economy, create jobs, and build strong communities.