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The Small Business Legal Academy (“SBLA”) was organized by the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (“APBCo”), a membership organization of full-time pro bono counsel and coordinators at major commercial law firms across the country. APBCo is dedicated to improving access to justice by advancing the model of the full-time law firm pro bono counsel, enhancing the professional development of pro bono counsel and serving as a unified voice for the national law firm pro bono community.

In the fall of 2012, and then again in the summer of 2014, the board of directors of APBCo met with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the role of pro bono attorneys in the delivery of legal services to the poor and underserved, including innovative collaborations between law firms, legal services organizations, bar associations and the judiciary. Out of that meeting came a commitment from APBCo to design sustainable new solutions that will increase access to free legal services. APBCo has since initiated a series of new collaborations, in nine cities across the country, designed to expand national law firm efforts to increase access to justice and legal services. This effort is called APBCo IMPACT (Involving More Pro bono Attorneys in our Communities Together). APBCo IMPACT leaders updated the Vice President about the progress of these various programs being launched around the nation.

One of these IMPACT collaborations in Houston has brought together a multitude of law firms and legal and social service providers to create the SBLA Houston, an expansion of the SBLA program, which was first instituted in NYC. Our first SBLA NY was on October 29, 2013 at Harlem's World Famous Apollo Theater, and then the next SBLA took place on November 19, 2014 at Brooklyn Law School. Following the success of the NY programs, we brought SBLA to Houston. SBLA Houston is scheduled for April 14, 2016 at South Texas College of Law. APBCo firm, Vinson & Elkins, LLP has taken the lead in SBLA Houston to gather government organizations, legal service providers, social service agencies and other Houston area corporate law firms, to make sure that SBLA Houston continues the success of the prior two academies.

Small business legal relief is an integral aspect of law firm pro bono programs and economic redevelopment initiatives throughout Houston. The SBLA focuses on an open market approach: bringing law firms, legal service providers and fledgling small businesses together on a large scale, adding to the mix financial services consultants and City and State agencies. This model is designed to have a deep immediate impact, with a wide array of resources, and the opportunity to discuss typical legal issues with a broad audience (through workshops) as well as advise individual business owners (through individual legal counseling). Thank you for visiting this site.

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