Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Contact: Catherine Tenuta, SBS Press Associate -, 212-618-8768


New WE NYC Program will Partner with Leading Local Law Firms and Legal Organizations

New York – NYC Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop today announced that free legal clinics will be available to women entrepreneurs through the City's Women Entrepreneurs (WE) NYC Initiative. The clinics are part of a new program called WE Legal, which will work in partnership with leading local law firms and legal organizations. WE Legal will host clinics for women entrepreneurs to access free, one-on-one legal consultations with attorneys on topics including business formation, by-laws, contracts, and other corporate legal matters.

WE NYC is an initiative based out of SBS that is dedicated to helping women start and grow their businesses. WE NYC addresses gender gaps in business formation, growth and financing by delivering research-based interventions designed to help women overcome barriers to business success. Since 2015, WE NYC has delivered nearly 7,000 free educational, networking and financing services to women throughout the five boroughs.

"WE Legal not only offers women entrepreneurs a set of necessary basic resources - it connects them with strategic legal advice from some of the most powerful lawyers in NYC," said Alicia Glen, NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development.

"Entrepreneurship most importantly requires a dream and determination. Women entrepreneurs may have the skills and resolution to do it all, but lack the background to make informed legal decisions," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "We're committed to ensuring women entrepreneurs have access to the free legal assistance from trusted experts to build thriving businesses."

WE Legal will connect women entrepreneurs to free legal advice from NYC's leading firms, to include the following:

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
  • Hogan Lovells US LLP
  • Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Women entrepreneurs in need of additional, ongoing legal support will be connected to organizations including Start Small Think Big, the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) of the City Bar Justice Center, and Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) for pro bono consideration.

WE Legal clinics will be facilitated by SBS' NYC Business Solutions Centers, which are located across the five boroughs. NYC Business Solutions Centers provide free legal consultations to the city's business owners. For more information about SBS and its services for small businesses, visit

WE Legal clinics will kick-off on September 26, 2018. The event will include a discussion on intellectual property and patents as well as one-on-one legal consultations. For more information or to register for the event, visit

"Baker McKenzie is delighted to be part of this initiative to provide additional legal resources to small business owners and women entrepreneurs in the New York area," said Carol Stubblefield, Corporate Partner, Baker McKenzie's New York office.

"Cleary is excited to partner with the NYC Department of Small Business Services through Women Entrepreneurs NYC," said Francesca L. Odell, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. "Through our pro bono practice, we have a long-standing commitment to supporting the City's small businesses to help them formalize and grow. We now look forward to working with WE NYC in this targeted program to help address some of the legal obstacles women entrepreneurs face and seeing them truly thrive."

"Fostering sustainable, women-led business opportunities is one of the keystones of our firm's Empowering Girls and Women Initiative," said T. Weymouth, Pro Bono Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP. "We're proud to partner with WE Legal to help provide female entrepreneurs with the tools they need to build and grow their businesses."

"Kirkland & Ellis is excited about the opportunity to participate in the new clinics of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, assisting women entrepreneurs by providing legal advice to their ventures," said Ashley Gregory, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP. "We are looking forward to helping increase economic opportunities for women in New York City through this initiative."

"The City Bar Justice Center's Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project (NELP) is excited to expand its efforts in providing NYC entrepreneurs with the legal assistance they need to start their small businesses on sound legal footing," said Akira Arroyo, Esq., Program Director, Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project. "Our partnership with WE NYC, an organization that is equally committed to helping entrepreneurs, will allow us to engage in an initiative that will equip women entrepreneurs with the tools they need to make their dreams of launching a small business a reality."

"Simpson Thacher is excited to be partnering with the City to provide legal services to women entrepreneurs," said Harlene Katzman, Pro Bono Counsel/Director, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. "We believe that having access to legal services can be transformative for women as they seek to become successful business owners who invest in local communities and attain economic stability."

"Building a sustainable business requires legal assistance, but legal counsel is expensive and many under-resourced startups go without," said Jennifer DaSilva, Founder and Executive Director, Start Small Think Big. "Unfortunately, failure to secure proper legal counsel often hampers and sometimes even ruins nascent businesses that might otherwise thrive. Businesses lacking sound legal infrastructures are more vulnerable to business-related liabilities and less likely to profit from business relationships or to obtain loans, investment, or large contracts. This is why the pro bono legal assistance from WE Legal and its partners is so critical."

“WE NYC is addressing the entrepreneurship gender gap and changing the game for women entrepreneurs in New York City," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the NYC Council’s Committee on Women. "The latest announcement that legal services will be made available to women entrepreneurs throughout the five boroughs is yet another strong development in New York City’s efforts to support women entrepreneurs. I’m grateful to Deputy Mayor Glen and NYC Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop for their leadership in supporting New Yorkers.”

"Legal compliance is the cornerstone of any successful entrepreneurial endeavor," said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. "By providing free legal assistance to up and coming female entrepreneurs through the WE Legal program, the WE NYC initiative is greatly increasing  female business owners’ opportunity for longevity and success. I thank Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop for their commitment to supporting female entrepreneurship through holistic and strategic partnerships."

“I would like to thank the distinguished law firms for offering their pro bono services to assist women entrepreneurs in establishing a proper foundation for their businesses in the formative stages," said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

About WE NYC

WE NYC, launched by SBS in 2015, delivers tailored, research based programs for women entrepreneurs to better connect them to the resources, education, and community they need to flourish. WE NYC services are free and open to all women throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit

About the Department of Small Business Services

SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building thriving neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.