5 April 20233 minute read

Supporting Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs

Providing qualified Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs with practical and timely legal advice

Black and Indigenous Business Law Clinic

DLA Piper has been accepting applications from qualifying Black and ‎Indigenous-owned businesses in British Columbia—and recently in Ontario—to our pro bono Black and Indigenous Business ‎Law Clinic. The team at the Clinic provides qualifying Black and Indigenous founders with practical and timely corporate and commercial legal advice. It focuses on common legal issues encountered by entrepreneurs and small ‎business owners, including incorporations, structuring, employment, e-commerce, 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’s services are currently offered in British Columbia in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, and in Ontario on land that is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.

The team, which includes Morgan McDonald, Maneesha Dakha, Tyson Gratton, Becky Rock, Erik Thorsteinsson, Adam Lee, Josh Sved and Caroline Yao (all Vancouver), and Cody Koblinsky, Sunil Sharma and Thomas Prentice (Toronto), has worked on a wide range of files in 2021, contributing about 400 hours to pro bono matters. The Clinic’s work includes assisting a membership association with organizing a vendor pop-up for member businesses by drafting an agreement between the association and its members for use of the licensed space and assisting a highly regarded health and wellness boutique to formalize its business arrangements and strategically plan for its future. Overall, the Clinic has drafted an array of commercial agreements, assisted e-commerce companies, advised entrepreneurs on incorporation, intellectual property, employment matters and helped businesses craft their website terms and conditions.

The Clinic also provides legal educational webinars and workshops for businesses. To date, these have included a five-part educational series with Damage Labs, a game studio accelerator focusing on marginalized game designers, and its winter/spring cohort; 20-minute consultations as part of the Rise Up Pitch Contest, a competition for female Black entrepreneurs; an educational webinar with the Black Business Association of BC; and two educational webinars with the Indigenous Fashion Support Program at the Fashion Zone by Ryerson University (a fashion business incubator). The Clinic has also launched a mentorship program for Black- and Indigenous-identifying law students in British Columbia.