NELF’s Equalizer Institute Featured in Contrarian Boston

NELF’s Equalizer Institute Featured in Contrarian Boston

The governor will see you now: Deval Patrick to advise budding local entrepreneurs as part of a new nonprofit startup

That would be the Equalizer Institute, which the New England Legal Foundation is gearing up to launch next year.

Patrick has agreed to do some volunteer advising at the new institute, which will provide free legal services to new and aspiring business owners, who often need legal help for everything from obtaining various permits and licenses to drafting investment contracts.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

The mission will be to help entrepreneurs who may not otherwise be able to afford to hire a lawyer, with a focus on “black-owned, New American-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, low income-owned, and college entrepreneur-owned businesses,” according to NELF’s description of the new institute.

Along with Patrick, other advisors include:

  • Jane Edmonds, vice president for programming and community outreach at Babson College, and founding partner of Jane’s Way, LLC;
  • Damon Hart, chief legal counsel for Liberty Mutual;
  • Denzil McKenzie, founder and managing director, McKenzie & Associates.
  • Claudia Augustin, a senior counsel at Bluefort Law;
  • and Rachel Kemp, vice President at Pickwick Capital Partners.

The New England Legal Foundation is now working to raise the $600,000 it will need to open up the legal services clinic in 2024.

So far, the Equalizer has netted a $75,000 a year pledge from the Cummings Foundation. The clinic has also received a pledge of $200,000 a year over two years from the Rappaport Foundation, a matching donation that kicks in when NELF raises an equal amount from other sources.

“A lot of entrepreneurs can’t afford market rate law firms,” Dan Winslow, president of NELF, told Contrarian Boston. “It is a huge barrier to entry.”



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