In August of 2020, DLA Piper Canada launched the pro bono Black and Indigenous Business Law Clinic (the “Clinic”). Since its inception, the Clinic has been committed to helping combat systemic racism and promoting long-term, sustainable changes in Canadian business.
In the past two years, the Clinic has focussed on providing assistance to Black and Indigenous businesses on common legal issues encountered by entrepreneurs and small business owners, including incorporations, structuring, employment matters, e-commerce issues, and basic commercial matters. The Clinic has also run business law education seminars to help first-time business owners understand some of the risks they should keep in mind as they grow their businesses.
The Clinic was recently named an Excellence Awardee under the Pro Bono Initiative of the Year category at the 2022 Canadian Law Awards. The Clinic was also one of four recipients to receive a 2021-2022 Justice Seymour Simon Award, recognizing outstanding pro bono work done by a team of lawyers and staff at the firm.
Some of the Clinic’s work in the past two years includes:
- 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.
- Hosting legal education webinars/workshops for Damage Labs (a game studio accelerator focusing on marginalized game designers), the Rise Up Pitch Contest (a pitch competition for female Black entrepreneurs), the Black Business Association of BC, and the Indigenous Fashion Support Program at the Fashion Zone by Ryerson University (a fashion business incubator).
During 2022, we have been working to expand the Clinic and its community outreach, to include Clinic services in DLA Piper’s offices in Ontario and expand on Black and Indigenous law student mentorship opportunities in British Columbia.
Through the Clinic, we look to connect with Black- and Indigenous-owned businesses and business organizations supporting Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs to raise awareness of the Clinic. In addition, we also look to form relationships with banks and accounting firms so that we can better assist the Clinic’s clients.
If you would like to hear more about the Clinic, the services we offer, or how you can get involved, please contact us at email@example.com.