Contact NCBA @:
8000 Weston Parkway
Cary, NC 27513
NC LEAP FAQs
|Q. Who are we?|
A. NC LEAP (North Carolina Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program) is a project of the North Carolina Bar Association and the NCBA Foundation that provides free legal services to low-wealth entrepreneurs who are in the process of starting or expanding their businesses: through direct legal representation, small business legal clinics and the production of self-help materials. We also provide business-related assistance to established nonprofit entities in North Carolina. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide assistance with establishing a 501(c). NC LEAP attorneys are volunteers and experts in their fields who want to give back to their communities.
|Q. Who do we serve?|
A. NC LEAP (North Carolina Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program) serves the low-wealth entrepreneur who is trying to start or expand a business. We focus on entrepreneurs locating their business in low-wealth communities, who hire and train low-wealth employees, or entrepreneurs with fewer than five employees. In general an NC LEAP client's gross income does not exceed 80% of state median income for his/her family size. We also serve qualified established nonprofit organizations in North Carolina with business-related matters.
|Q. What types of services do our lawyers provide?|
NC LEAP lawyers help build low-wealth North Carolina businesses in one of three ways:
You can also volunteer to serve on the NC LEAP Steering Committee in a leadership capacity.
- Volunteer attorneys provide business transactional legal assistance through direct probono matches.
- Volunteer attorneys staff legal clinics where small business can ask an attorney for advice regarding his/her business problem. Sometimes these clinics focus on special legal issues for small business like immigration and succession planning or e-commerce.
- Volunteer attorneys write educational legal guides for small business (i.e. How to start a farmers market), which identify legal issues that businesses encounter as they start or expand.
|Q. Why should attorneys volunteer?|
There are several benefits for you as a volunteer attorney.
- Volunteer attorneys are covered by our malpractice insurance.
- Volunteering offers opportunities to develop professional skills; i.e. client relations, client counseling, negotiation, drafting legal documents, case management and time management.
- Volunteering offers attorneys opportunities to represent their own clients.
- Volunteer attorneys can choose from a variety of opportunities including mentoring, staffing legal clinics or working in conjunction with the legal department of a corporation.
- Volunteering can be an effective marketing tool for your firm or practice.
|Q. How does the program work?|
Clients are referred by an agency or they may self-refer.
- Clients complete an application and submit to NC LEAP.
- NC LEAP determines eligibility and legal issue(s).
- NC LEAP contacts prospective volunteer.
- Once a volunteer is found and conflicts clear, we formally refer the client.
- We follow-up from time to time to ensure satisfaction by both parties.
- We assist if you are having difficulties with the client.
|Q. Why are we helping business owners?|
A. We recognize that sound legal advice is necessary to ensure continued success for business owners. We also recognize that some small business owners may not be able to afford legal advice at certain stages of their business development. Because entrepreneurs will be the backbone of our state's economy over the next 15-20 years and because entrepreneurship plays an important role in revitalizing economically distressed North Carolina communities, we are committed to improving entrepreneurial success and contributing to the state's economy by doing what only attorneys can do -- providing legal advice. Most importantly, NC LEAP attorneys are committed to doing the right thing for our profession and our communities.
|Q. Are you a potential NC LEAP entrepreneur?|
You could be our client if:
- You meet our asset guidelines and make less than 80% of the
state median income for a family of your size. We'll make this
determination by reviewing your application and supporting
documentation. (Click here
to see the eligibility guidelines table.)
- You have a civil (non-criminal) legal issue related to starting
or expanding your business.
- Your issue is not an issue which requires litigation
- Your business is our will be located in North Carolina
Please apply even if you are uncertain you qualify. NC LEAP
takes into account extenuating circumstances (i.e. unemployment,
|Q. What are legal issues that impact small businesses?|
A. A more appropriate question is what legal issues don't impact a small business? The right answer is very few. Issues for small businesses range from choosing an appropriate business entity (i.e. sole proprietorship vs. corporation vs. partnership, etc.) to licensing, trademark, intellectual property, contracts, purchasing/selling real estate. In short, small businesses require a full range of legal services to survive and, indeed, prosper.