Accenture's Legal Support Clinics for Under-Represented Entrepreneurs
In House Pro Bono Stories
We sat down with Emma Hearse, Pro Bono Deployment Lead at Accenture to talk about their work with Hatch Enterprise in running legal support clinics for under-represented entrepreneurs.
Tell us a about a recent successful pro bono project
In partnership with Gibson Dunn and Hatch, we run clinics to provide legal support to under-represented entrepreneurs who are setting up and growing their businesses. Hatch empowers these entrepreneurs to imagine, launch and grow sustainable and impactful businesses through tailored support, community, and partnerships.
How did you launch and source this project?
We routinely work with several organisations in the US (for example, Start Small, Think Big and Sky's The Limit) to provide legal support for small businesses, non-profits, and under-represented entrepreneurs. We were keen to replicate this model in the UK, so following an introduction from our UK Corporate Citizenship team, we met with Hatch to discuss how we could support them.
Having successfully partnered with Gibson Dunn in the US, we were eager to work with them again on this initiative.
How did you cover this project from an insurance angle?
The clinics are structured so that Accenture and Gibson Dunn volunteers provide general guidance to participants about possible issues or areas where participants may wish to consider taking legal advice, or seek legal or other advisory support. Participants are not provided with any specific legal advice and are asked to sign up to the clinic T&Cs (a legal advice waiver) before the session.
What made this particular project successful in your view?
Once the clinic format was agreed, it was relatively simple to set up and run. Hatch are a great organisation to work with, very proactive and efficient. Feedback from participating entrepreneurs was very positive, and all of our volunteer lawyers found it to be a very rewarding experience. So much so, that they all volunteered again for the next clinic!
How did you ensure volunteer engagement/senior stakeholder buy in?
We approached and recruited a senior leader to register as our first volunteer, and with his support it was easy to encourage others to participate.
What lessons did you learn from this project that you will apply to future projects?
Where feasible it's preferable to invest time and effort developing pro bono projects that are repeatable. We're now able to support multiple clinics throughout the year with minimal effort.
We were able to leverage our experience and the format/materials from similar clinics in the US, and to build on our strong pro bono partnership with Gibson Dunn. The referral from our Corporate Citizenship team (which is responsible for environmental, social, and corporate governance) meant that Hatch already had an established relationship with Accenture, so we were confident that their work aligned with Accenture's CSR priorities and policies.
What was the TrustLaw prize for?
Accenture won the In-house Legal Team of the Year Award. This was largely in recognition of the work of our team in Argentina, a country where the practice of in-house pro bono has traditionally not been well developed. We use the TrustLaw Portal to source projects on a regular basis, and in partnership with the law firm Richards Cardinal we've been able to provide legal support to numerous NGOs.