eBay Legal Clinic for Small Business Owners in San Jose

By Rossana Drumond

Alianza News

Silicon Valley is home to a thriving community of entrepreneurs and small business owners, that continue to move the area’s reputation of innovation and leadership forward, and thus fertile ground for jobs and economic growth.

Owning your own business can be both rewarding and challenging. Many of our local multi-national, multi-billion dollar companies were once a small business who had to hurdle through various challenges and obstacles. Among the multiple challenges, a successful entrepreneur and business owner must learn about legal issues, for example.

The city of San Jose welcomed the Free Legal Clinic & Business Training for Entrepreneurs organized by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) & eBay, Inc., Legal Department. Both partnered to provide free Legal training and clinic for entrepreneurs, including employment law, finance and commercial lease training for small business owners, and legal consultations.

Participants learned about ways to strengthen and protect small businesses, which was followed by an advice clinic. After, participants had the opportunity to consult with legal professionals in one on one sessions, with lawyers volunteering from eBay and LCCR.

The topics covered in the training and clinic included: entity formation (sole proprietor, general partnership, LLC, S-Corp, etc.), commercial lease (advice regarding leases for a business space), contract drafting and review (contracts with vendors, independent contractors), best practices for human resources and intellectual property. Other topics included hiring, firing, wages, and learning how to protect personal assets from liabilities of the business.

The workshop took place at eBay headquarters in San Jose on March 28th, 2019.

José Luis Gómez, Program Coordinator of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, explains further about his organization “LCCR is a nonprofit working to protect and promote the dignity and self-determination of people of color, immigrants, and low-income people in California. The three areas we specialize in are racial justice, immigrant justice, and economic justice. We provide direct legal services and represent certain individuals and groups in our impact litigation cases, but we primarily pursue our mission by connecting low-income individuals to pro bono assistance.”

We asked José Luis Gómez to tell us about the support that eBay offered to carry out this workshop to the organization overall:

“Last year, the eBay Foundation awarded LCCR a grant to support the Legal Services for Entrepreneurs (LSE) program. LCCR plans to use part of these funds to make our template fair and commercial leases more accessible through technology. Additionally, eBay supports our work by providing volunteers and hosting events such as this workshop and legal clinic and by taking on pro bono cases throughout the year. We are very grateful for their support of LCCR and LSE, and we hope to continue collaborating to assist the community”, explains José Luis Gómez.

Alianza— How many lawyers does your organization have and what is the legal service provided for small businesses or general legal services?

Gómez— “LCCR has various attorneys who work in our economic justice, racial justice, and immigrant justice teams. The majority of the legal services LSE provides to small business owners is done through pro bono volunteers from firms and corporations in the Bay Area. These pro bono attorneys assist in the areas of entity formation, contracts, intellectual property, employment law, and commercial leasing, and our volunteers assist with long-term representation and by staffing our legal clinics and workshops throughout the Bay Area.”

Allie Ottoboni, Senior Manager of Global Impact, expanded on the work that eBay is doing for the community.

Alianza— How did eBay choose to support the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights organization?

Ottoboni— “The eBay Foundation supports inclusive entrepreneurship, ensuring that entrepreneurs of all backgrounds can successfully start and grow businesses. We were thrilled to make a $20,000 grant to LCCR through our employee grantmaking challenge, the Global Give. An employee with our legal pro bono program knew about LCCR’s work to protect and promote the dignity of people of color and submitted a winning application!”

Alianza— What community programs does eBay have in San Jose?

Ottoboni— “eBay is proud to support many organizations that help to improve the quality of life for San Jose residents. We also offer a number of programs to encourage our employees to engage with the communities in which we live and work, including a generous matching gifts program, a Kiva lending program, volunteer hour matching and the Global Give, our employee grantmaking competition. On ebay.com, shoppers can also support San Jose-based nonprofits through our eBay for Charity program which allows you to donate to nonprofits at checkout or to sell on their behalf. eBay for Charity has raised over $900 million for nonprofits globally.”

Alianza— What is Pierre Morad Omidyar’s, founder of eBay and philanthropist, thoughts on these type of community support programs?

Ottoboni— “Pierre Omidyar founded eBay with the belief that people are inherently good and capable, and that anyone should have the opportunity to start and grow their business. We continue to bring this purpose to life through our corporate and philanthropic work.”

We asked Scott Andrews, pro bono Director of eBay, how he defines eBay:

Andrews— “eBay is an e-commerce company with the mission of being the world’s favorite destination for discovering great value and unique selection. We give sellers the platform, solutions, and support they need to grow their businesses and thrive. We empower people and create economic opportunity. We focus on partnering with our sellers, not competing with them. We are building stronger connections between buyers and sellers with product experiences that are fast, mobile, and secure. And we are transforming the individual selling experience to help you turn the things you no longer need into cash you can use.”

Alianza— Which of the 3 presentations during the Legal Clinic & Business Training for Entrepreneur’s workshop did you find most interesting and why?

Andrews— “All three presenters did a great job. I particularly enjoyed the presentation on commercial leases because I don’t work on these very much and the presenter gave interesting information about the current landlord-tenant dynamics in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

When these types of workshops are available, it is beneficial entrepreneurs to attend. As a business owner myself, I had an excellent and enriching experience at this workshop. I learned a lot with Gemma Morgan, an eBay Attorney, who took the time to answer my legal questions and reviewed independent contractor agreements.

You can learn more about LCCR at: https://lccr.com/who-we-are/mission-values/