In recent years, the impact of Covid-19 in communities of color has re-emphasized the need for Communities Rise to partake in disrupting systems of economic oppression in communities historically excluded from paths to generational wealth. We are specifically aware of the overwhelming importance small businesses play as vehicles of familial support and wealth creation in these communities. Therefore in light of our mission and limited legal resources, we are prioritizing low income BIPOC small business owners in their efforts to establish thriving businesses to support their families and local communities.
Following our vision for a more equitable Washington we are proud to offer two avenues of assistance for Washington based low income small business owners; our clinics and our direct representation services. To be eligible for free legal services through our clinics or direct representation, all business owners must demonstrate the following:
- The business is registered in Washington state;
- Seeks legal assistance with business or organizational law needs;
- Is unable to pay for legal fees without significant hardship to operations;
- Owners’ household income is below 80% of the King County HUD guidelines; (all owners must qualify if more than one)
Communities Rise uses the King County HUD guidelines to determine household income eligibility for all small business legal services.
The Small Business Legal Clinic is for low income Washington state business owners who are seeking legal advice. Our clinics are staffed by volunteer attorneys and designed for advice/questions that can be answered in the 60 minutes the clinic provides. In partnership with Ventures, volunteer lawyers give free legal advice to small business owners at our monthly Small Business Legal Clinics.
Given the conditions around COVID-19 all clinics will be held remotely until further notice. Our clinics are held in the evenings with limited spots available. Please note times and dates are not flexible.
As we are always striving to be as accessible as possible. Upon request we offer translation and live transcription services. Please let us know how we can support your accessibility needs.
If interested in scheduling an appointment for the clinic please contact us via our contact form.
Direct representation is the option we recommend for legal work that requires in-depth assistance to complete. By applying low income small business owners get to work one-on-one with an attorney until the scope of work has been completed. Attorneys will answer questions and provide legal advice on business law needs. Please contact us via our contact form if interested in learning more.
Types of Legal Issues We Assist Small Business Owners With:
We offer assistance with these legal issues through both our legal clinics and direct representation. We like to remind prospective clinic clients that due to the time constraints of the legal clinic we are ONLY able to provide advice and are not able to provide the in-depth assistance provided through our direct representation services nor are we able to provide multiple clinic consultations to complete work that could be done through our direct services. Feel free to contact us if you are unsure about which avenue is best suited for the legal assistance you are seeking.
- Business Entity Formation – LLC/PLLC, sole proprietor, partnership, c-corporation, social purpose corporation and drafting formation agreements such as shareholder agreements, and operating agreements.
- Maintenance and Compliance with State and Federal Law
- Contracts – drafting and advising on business contracts.
- Real Estate – drafting or reviewing property leases and purchase and sale agreements.
- Taxes – advice on compliance and the legal side of federal, state, and local taxes. We recommend consulting with an accountant for assistance filing or structuring taxes.
- Employment – preparing, reviewing and revising personnel policies, independent contractor agreements, vendor agreements, employment contracts, and confidentiality agreements.
- Intellectual Property & Privacy – assistance with registering trademarks, and advising on copyright protection, license agreements, or website-related agreements. We do not provide assistance on patent matters.
- Risk and Liability Assessment – including waiver and release forms, and advice on legalities of insurance coverage. We recommend speaking with an insurance broker for in-depth insurance needs.
What We Don’t Do:
- Litigation Matters – do not provide assistance on litigation matters or with hearings. We do not help sue other parties. (Litigation is the process of taking legal action, generally in situations of conflict.)
- Conflicts/Embezzlement – do not assist with situations of conflict between board members/staff, or embezzlement.
- Individual Claims against Nonprofits – do not provide assistance to individuals with their pursuit of claims against nonprofit and community organizations.
- Ongoing Legal Assistance – unable to help find an attorney to serve on a nonprofit’s board, or have an attorney be on-call or serve as General Counsel.
- Legal Advice Over the Phone – do not provide legal advice over the phone. We are not a “hotline” service. We only provide legal assistance upon receiving a written application, however, we are available to answer questions about the application process over the phone or by email.
Resources can be found on our Small Business Resource page.
Our Legal Services for Small Businesses application can be found here.
We recommend downloading the application in order to fill it out.
Feel free to contact us with any questions using our contact form.
COVID-19 related resources can be found on our COVID-19 Resource Page.