VOLS & APBCO Host Small Business Legal Academy in Brooklyn

December 18, 2014

On November 19, 2014, Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) joined the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo) and ten additional organizations to host New York City’s second annual Small Business Legal Academy (SBLA) at the Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, NY. Approximately 130 entrepreneurs attended the event, which included free legal consultations and three workshops on legal and financing issues for entrepreneurs. Additionally, sixteen different service providers were in attendance to help the entrepreneurs arrange for ongoing support after the event ended.

The event provided an opportunity for more than 100 volunteer attorneys from twenty-four different law firms to meet with small business owners and non-profit leaders from all five boroughs of the city. An additional forty-five volunteers from sixteen different firms and legal services organizations helped to staff SBLA, demonstrating the sheer size of the event and highlighting the collaborative efforts that helped to make it such a success.

Ann Bailen Fisher, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, was one of the hundred-plus attorneys that provided consultations to SBLA participants. She had this to say about the event:

“I very much enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the SBLA.  It was a very well organized event, successfully targeted at promoting small businesses in the City. I was very impressed by the entrepreneurs with whom I spoke.  Each of them had a creative and realistic goal and needed guidance in identifying their next steps and finding the resources to help them follow through and achieve that goal. Each of them had a dream, and it was exciting for me to be able to participate in an event dedicated to providing them with the guidance and assistance they need and deserve.”

Derrick DeFlorimonteOn the other side of the consultation table sat entrepreneurs like Derrick DeFlorimonte, Founder of Queens South Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Inc., a startup nonprofit organization that seeks to provide the South Queens community with reliable access to life-saving ambulatory services. Derrick spent several hours at SBLA, attending workshops, meeting with attorneys, and building relationships with different service providers. He left the event having received expert legal advice which he will use to continue to grow his new organization. 

VOLS was a core member of SBLA’s planning team, and we could not have asked for a better outcome. Benjamin Cox, Coordinator of VOLS’ Microenterprise Project, was particularly pleased with the event. 

“It was a pleasure working with APBCo and all of the organizations that helped to plan and organize this year’s rendition of the Small Business Legal Academy," said Cox. "To be able to provide substantive legal advice to nearly 100 entrepreneurs in a single day is a great feat that would not have been possible without the considerable efforts and collaboration exhibited by these organizations. At VOLS, we are proud of what we have achieved together, and we look forward to seeing what long-term effects the SBLA has on the entrepreneurs and small businesses that participated."

To make a donation to the project, please visit www.vols.kintera.org/micro or contact VOLS' Executive Director, Bill Lienhard at blienhard@volsprobono.org or 347-521-5717.

Please enjoy these photos from the 2014 Small Business Legal Academy: