Executive Summary

The Goal: The goal of the Business Law Corps is to create jobs

The purpose of the Business Law Corps (BLC) is to service the unmet legal needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs. We’ve developed an innovative model that leverages the existing skills of business attorneys in order to provide pro bono legal services to those business-owners that cannot afford them.  The objective is two-fold: (1) to create jobs by assisting entrepreneurs in forming and protecting their new and growing business interests; and (2) to enrich community economic development through the legal education of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The Need: Small businesses need legal and mentoring support to succeed

The formation of the BLC is a direct response to the pressing needs of small businesses which face significant hurdles in affording important legal services and advice. Small business owners and new entrepreneurs – with their new, promising, and innovative ideas – often lack the funding to retain traditional legal counsel. These same business owners also do not often qualify as traditional pro bono clients, and so are ultimately left without legal counsel.  Without representation, entrepreneurs and small business owners have a much lower chance of success as they may make fatal legal mistakes leading to failed ventures, costly litigation, bankruptcy and further economic distress.

The Resource:  Corporate and business attorneys who do little pro bono work

Our belief is that many business attorneys are generous and willing to put their expertise to work on a pro bono basis if given the opportunity.  Because few legal nonprofits are focused on providing business law services, we have found there is a large untapped resource of attorneys willing to help build businesses and create jobs.  The BLC offers a new way for corporate, business and intellectual property attorneys to do pro bono work.

The Solution: Connecting business attorneys with small business owners

The BLC will connect the resource, corporate attorneys, with the low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs and small business owners who need help.  The goal of BLC is not to provide legal services itself, but rather to serve as a platform to connect competent business lawyers with deserving entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of legal counsel may apply to the BLC for help, and business lawyers looking to help the community may join the BLC network for pro bono opportunities. The BLC offers small business owners – everyone from “mom-and-pop” store owners to innovative emerging growth companies – support in various business law areas including choice of entity, incorporation, contract/licensing, intellectual property and employment law. By establishing a place where small business owners can go to get legal support tailored to the growth of their business, the BLC fills a pressing gap for pro bono business law services and fosters job creation in Hawai’i and beyond.

The Benefits: Small businesses create the most jobs

The idea of the BLC will be well received by many constituencies, particularly in today’s economy. The BLC seeks to alleviate imperfect access to the legal system and foster economic justice. Small businesses and entrepreneurs will directly benefit from these services by ensuring their business interests are protected. In addition to facilitating pro bono legal services, the BLC also aims to better inform business owners about their legal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Communities will benefit as job creation and economic wealth is fostered.

Leadership:  Experienced and enthusiastic leadership

BLC was founded by Greg Kim, Natalie Banach, and Cat Taschner.

Greg Kim is a corporate attorney with over 25 years of private law firm experience.  Greg is committed to helping small business, as evidenced by his practice, which focuses on startups, teaching an Entrepreneurship and Small Business Clinic at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law for the past 5 years, founding the Business Law Section’s volunteer program at the Hawaii Business Action Center 7 years ago, teaching entrepreneurship as an adjunct professor at Chaminade University, and serving as an advisor and in-residence mentor at the University of Hawaii Shidler School of Business/PACE, Chaminade University and Punahou School.

Cat Taschner is an associate attorney in the corporate and real estate department at McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP. Prior to joining M4 in 2012, Cat completed a one year clerkship for the Honorable Lawrence M. Reifurth at the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Cat graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law in 2011, where she was a member of the Intellectual Property Moot Court Team and was selected as a member of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship & E-Business (PACE) Fellowship Team. She also completed a judicial externship with the Honorable Katherine G. Leonard at the ICA. Prior to attending law school, Cat attended Scripps College in Claremont, California.