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Citigroup, Barclays and Goldman Sachs Partner for Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project Clinic

Lawyers and legal professionals from Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup recently partnered to provide pro bono legal services at a Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) legal clinic. The clients, micro-entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have been able to afford a lawyer, received advice on such matters as incorporation, commercial leases, copyright and other intellectual property issues, tax issues and various license and permit applications.

Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Clinic
This new model of bringing three giant financial institutions together at one clinic was spearheaded by Barclays. There was strong representation from all three organizations, as nearly 20 volunteers provided advice and counsel to the clients at the clinic.

Michael Crowl, General Counsel for Barclays in the Americas, said, “Citizenship is one of our key priorities at Barclays.  Partnering with the City Bar Justice Center and the NELP program gives us a terrific opportunity to support the communities in which we live and work.”

The clients covered a wide range of backgrounds and business types, and volunteers were able to adapt their legal expertise to the clients’ questions.  Attorneys helped an event-planning business with its commercial leasing issues, filled out a corporate kit with the owner of a wholesale trading company, and reviewed an academic tutor’s contract to determine her obligations to her clients.

“Being able to participate in the NELP clinic with Barclays and Citi was a rewarding experience all around,” said Martin Schmelkin, Goldman Sachs Vice President and Associate General Counsel. “Not only does it give us a chance to develop expertise in other areas of the law, but it also provides a terrific opportunity to network with our colleagues at other firms.”

“While we’ve worked with each of these legal departments individually in the past, to see them all come together to assist this group of entrepreneurs was very gratifying,” said Akira Arroyo, Director of NELP. “What was most fascinating is that none of the entrepreneurs fully realized that they were receiving free legal advice from such high-level attorneys, including the General Counsel and a Managing Director of a couple of the largest financial institutions in the city. We received positive feedback from all of the entrepreneurs as they left, and heard from at least two, after their sessions, that they felt better prepared to move forward with their business ideas.”

 

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