Bradley attorneys Bruce Ely, Tiffany Graves and Dawn Sharff were featured in a Birmingham Business Journal article on the firm’s upcoming launch of its Black Small Business and Nonprofit Community Clinic.
In partnership with Legal Services Alabama, the new clinic will begin providing free legal services to local Black-owned businesses the fourth Thursday of every month from noon to 1 p.m. starting April 29. LSA will conduct the initial screening of prospective clients, and eligible businesses should consist of at least 50% Black ownership with 10 or fewer employees and limited means. The clinic will be able to provide guidance on whether new entrepreneurs should form an LLC, sole proprietorship or S corporation, for instance, or offer assistance with contracts, leases, vendor agreements, purchasing agreements, service agreements or advice on intellectual property like trademarks, patents and copyrights.
Sharff, who serves as Bradley’s Birmingham office managing partner, and Ely will run the Birmingham clinic. Ely explained the firm will likely take on new pro bono clients as a result of the clinic as needed and build ongoing relationships with clients after initial meetings as their businesses develop. Ely said the clinic will also allow Bradley attorneys to act essentially as liaisons between businesses and the IRS, financial planners, insurance companies, accounting firms, lenders or other entities.
“We want to partner with a lot of different groups to make this a holistic package for those businesses,” Ely said.
Graves, who serves as pro bono counsel at Bradley, helped organize the Birmingham clinic after the firm first launched the program in Nashville. She said that clinic has helped nearly 100 Black-owned businesses since January 2021.
“Bruce and I spent several months last year, and even at the beginning of this year, reaching out to organizations in Birmingham to say, ‘we're thinking about developing this clinic, but before we do, we want to hear from you about what needs there are, what gap can we fill, providing this legal resource to members of the community,’” Graves said. She said the clinic will be able to accept applicants for later clinics through the application process.
“No one who qualifies is going to be turned away from getting this type of assistance,” Graves added.
“We recognize the historic and systemic racial inequities that have made it challenging for the Black business community to thrive in Birmingham,” Sharff said via a recent press release. “Our partnership with LSA is an opportunity for Bradley to join the cause for racial equity and to make a lasting impact in the local community.”
The complete article, “Bradley launches pro bono clinic for Black-owned businesses,” was published by the BBJ on April 26, 2022. (login required)