Social Enterprise UK has partnered with TrustLaw to facilitate free legal assistance for social enterprises we support.  TrustLaw is a global programme of Thomson Reuters Foundation that connect the world’s leading legal teams to provide free legal assistance to organisations working for social and environmental change. Applying and using the service is entirely free of charge.

Be sure to indicate in your application that you are a member of SEUK and a CERTIFIED SOCIAL ENTERPRISE, in order to benefit from having your application fast-tracked.

On average, it takes approximately one month to find free legal assistance through TrustLaw. If you want more information about the process please email sofia.nibali@socialenterprise.org.uk

How to apply

To access this pro bono support, you will need to sign up to the free service:

(Applicants are asked to provide as much information as possible when filling in the application form for quicker processing)

A few examples of the types of projects TrustLaw can help with:

  • Protecting intellectual property matters and trademark
  • Award-winning social enterprise Friends International worked with law firms Tilleke Gibbins International, LGP Asia, Leks and Co, and Clayton Utz to have their intellectual property protected in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Australia respectively, after becoming aware of attempts to copy some of their projects.
  • Registering your organisation and/or deciding which legal structure to adopt
  • Torys, one of Canada’s leading law firms, advised Swiss humanitarian aid agency Medair on registering in Canada, a move which Medair expects would provide support for their work in Haiti and throughout the world.

To learn more about using the service, please view TrustLaw’s introductory video which covers the dos and don’ts of using the service and explains exactly how you can go about requesting free legal assistance.

To learn more about using the service, please view TrustLaw’s introductory video which covers the dos and don’ts of using the service and explains exactly how you can go about requesting free legal assistance.

Questions?

To learn more, please visit http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/ or contact Shiura Rasheed at TrustLaw directly at shiura.rasheed@thomsonreuters.com for any questions.

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For Social Enterprises

SEUK and Bates Wells have established a free legal advice helpline. Only available to SEUK members, the helpline offers no-strings attached access to high-quality and expert legal advice on a range of legal issues including:

  • establishing, structuring and developing social enterprises;
  • specific law on Community Interest Companies, Registered Societies and Social Investment Tax Relief;
  • social finance and investment;
  • mutualisation;
  • contracts and public procurement;
  • grants, subsidies and State aid;
  • general charity and company law;
  • public and regulatory law;
  • employment and immigration law;
  • property and leases. 

How it works

Each SEUK member is entitled to two 20-minute phone calls per year free of charge across any of the legal areas above. Such calls can often resolve straight-forward questions or clarify how issues can be resolved. For those issues that require deeper consideration, Bates Wells will provide a further two hours of advice at a 20% discount on their already discounted rates for social enterprise and charity clients. Following this, any further advice will be provided at their standard social enterprise and charity rates.

Your legal queries

Please send your queries to Andy.Daly@socialenterprise.org.uk, stating your name, organisation, email address, phone number, nature of your query and urgency. Or call SEUK on 020 3589 4965.

Your query will be passed to a solicitor at Bates Wells who will then be in touch to schedule a call.

Bates Wells is a professional services firm, combining a UK 100 legal practice with consultancy services in impact measurement, outcomes-based planning and strategy, and financial services regulatory compliance. They are widely recognised as the leading specialist firm in the charity and social enterprise sectors, with a substantial track record of innovation, policy work and direct support. This ranges from work on the Community Interest Company to ongoing activity around social investment, from franchise agreements to 1:1 start-up advice and information, from the development of impact measurement to strategic acquisitions and mergers. Bates Wells has particular expertise and experience in healthcare (and social work), education, mutuals and spin-outs, youth services and early intervention, housing and domestic violence amongst others. 

Free resources

If you’re setting up a new social enterprise, visit Bates Wells’ “Help for new organisations” section to the right to access their decision tool and a wealth of free resources to help you get started. Don’t forget also to visit their Blogs and Knowledge section for regular updates on the latest thinking.