Twenty-four law firms have teamed up to create the Carolinas Social Impact Initiative, an initiative to help underserved communities in the Carolinas. Its goal is to create inclusion among communities across the Carolinas while removing systemic barriers to social and economic mobility. One way to do this is through a pilot program called the Charlotte Legal Initiative to Mobilize Businesses, or CLIMB.
The aim is to match low-income entrepreneurs and small businesses with lawyers who volunteer to provide business services to people who normally cannot access or afford a lawyer.
The program is led by Robinson Bradshaw and Moore & Van Allen, two of the 24 law firms involved in the Carolinas Social Impact Initiative. . Kate Maynard, general counsel to Robinson Bradshaw and senior attorney at CLIMB, says the pilot program will allow the group to learn more about the needs of low-income entrepreneurs and business owners.
“We recognize that helping small businesses and entrepreneurs in our community and helping them grow their businesses is hopefully a way to fuel economic development in some of the underserved parts of our community and economic mobility in the Charlotte area,” said Maynard.
CLIMB offers a variety of business services such as assisting owners with contract or property issues, obtaining finance and even advising on corporate structure selection.
The Carolinas Social Impact Initiative began in June 2020 after the death of George Floyd and in the middle of a summer of social unrest when a group of lawyers felt the need to help underserved communities.
Tom Griffin is the managing partner of Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein and a team leader for the initiative. He says his need to be part of the initiative came from a conversation with his daughter where they talked about wanting to do more than just watch what happened. That led to a conversation with heads of several law firms in the Carolinas who shared the same idea.
“We were all very passionate about the same thing at the same time, that we had those resources,” said Griffin. “How can we use them to make changes in our community? And wouldn’t it be cool if we could use them together? Wouldn’t that be a multiplier effect to aggregate what we can do and do something really cool? “
A little over a year later, the Carolinas Social Impact Initiative and “Test drives” started their first official program. As CLIMB has not yet officially launched, the application is not available on the group’s website. However, the initiative accepts applications through the websites of its referral partners. More information is available at ClimbNC.org.