Black and Indigenous Business Law Clinic2021–2022 Justice Seymour Simon Award winner
DLA Piper has been accepting applications from qualifying Black or Indigenous-owned businesses in British Columbia to our newly formed pro bono Black and Indigenous Business Law Clinic (known as the “Clinic”). The team at the Clinic provides qualifying Black and Indigenous founders with practical and timely corporate and commercial legal advice. The Clinic’s focus is common legal issues encountered by entrepreneurs and small business owners, including incorporations, structuring, employment matters, e-commerce issues, and basic commercial matters. The Clinic also runs business law education seminars to help first-time business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs understand some of the risks they should keep in mind as they start or grow their businesses. The Clinic services are currently offered in British Columbia from the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, and will be expanding across the country in 2022.
The team, which includes Morgan McDonald, Maneesha Dakha, Tyson Gratton, Becky Rock, Erik Thorsteinsson, Adam Lee, Josh Sved, and Caroline Yao (all Vancouver), has worked on a wide range of files in 2021, contributing about 400 hours to the cause. The Clinic’s work includes the following:
- Assisting a membership association with organizing a vendor pop up for their member businesses during the summer months in downtown Vancouver by drafting an agreement between the association and their members for use of the licensed space.
- Working with israella KOBLA, a women’s ready to wear fashion label located in Ontario, drafting various commercial agreements, including hiring agreements and influencer agreements.
- Drafting various commercial agreements, including volunteer and referral forms, for Redeem Clothing Recycling, a social enterprise that provides a platform to donate used clothing items for free and receive rewards for donations. The items received are then repurposed, resold and up cycled.
- Assisting an e-commerce business that designs and sells women’s footwear with general corporate/commercial and intellectual property advice.
- Providing an entrepreneur with incorporation and intellectual property advice to assist her business of hosting networking events for other members of the deaf and hard of hearing community and allies.
- Working with a graphic/web/marketing design firm located in BC, on incorporation and drafting of commercial agreements.
- Engaging with Faded Living, a cannabis consulting company located in BC. The Clinic has assisted Faded Living with their incorporation and drafting of website terms and conditions.
- Working with Accelerate Auto, a not-for-profit dedicated to advancing career opportunities for Black talent in the automotive industry, on governance matters and a variety of commercial agreements.
The Clinic also provides legal educational webinars/workshops for businesses. Some of the sessions they have hosted to date include: a 5-part educational series with Damage Labs, game studio accelerator focusing on marginalized game designers, and their winter/spring cohort; 20 min consultations with the Rise Up Pitch Contest, which is a pitch competition for female Black entrepreneurs; an educational webinar with the Black Business Association of BC for its members; and two educational webinars with the Indigenous Fashion Support Program at the Fashion Zone by Ryerson University (a fashion business incubator).
In addition, the Clinic has also started offering a mentorship program for Black and Indigenous identifying law students in BC.