Program Overview

Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s (LAET) “We Mean Business” program provides free transactional legal services to minority, women, and veteran-owned small businesses in Hamilton County which meet certain criteria. Our goal with each client is to to ensure their compliance with various state and federal requirements and to provide any other transactional legal services which may determine whether their business will flourish or fail. The program utilizes its own staff attorney and also utilizes a specially-formed panel of pro bono attorneys from around Hamilton County.

LAET seeks to create stable growth within our local economy by empowering typically under-served and/or under-informed entrepreneurs. The “We Mean Business” program is committed to excellence in legal practice and enthusiasm for our clients’ entrepreneurial spirit.

Eligibility

Eligible for our services is limited to small businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans located in Hamilton County, TN. We define a “small business” as a business with an average of no more than 50 employees over the past 12 months, or average annual total revenue of no more than $100,000 over the past three years. “Ownership” is determined by whether a minority, woman, or veteran retains at least an equal partnership interest in the business.

The program also evaluates applications in the interest of maximizing resources where they are most needed. Factors which might be evaluated include household income of the applicant, access to credit and capital, family size, number and quality of jobs created for local residents, and any benefits the applicant’s business does or may bring to the community.

In addition to the above criteria, applicants must also have a written business plan and be willing to complete or participate in an approved small business development training program or demonstrate that training is not needed because of sufficient business experience.

What We Expect In Return

In exchange for our free services, clients must be willing to do the following:

  • Participate in follow-up interviews at three, six, and 12 months after their file is closed
  • Share their story in writing, by video, audio, etc.
  • And/or serve as a mentor or otherwise participate in outreach and training.

For More Information

Contact Whitney Standefer at (423) 402-4769 or wstandefer@laet.org.

Checklist For Small Businesses

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