Social entrepreneurs often need and lack legal support. According to the research, social entrepreneurs in Poland identified interpreting legal regulations as a major barrier to running their business and indicate a lack of access to legal counseling.*
To address this issue, NESsT and DLA Piper partnered to develop legal fact sheets for Polish and Romanian social enterprises. DLA Piper is a global law firm that has implemented similar initiatives in Great Britain and Belgium, which inspired this program.
DLA Piper employees devoted more than 600 hours of pro-bono work to NESsT resulting in 12 publications that provide comprehensive legal guidance for social entrepreneurs on the following topics:
- Processing of personal data
- Protection of intellectual property rights
- Online activities
- Labor law and tax law issues.
Each brochure contains a set of key rules and regulations tailored to the specificity of social enterprises. The brochures include glossaries, contract templates and links to online legal knowledge bases. Representatives of social enterprises and the supporting institutions consulted on the first version of the brochures. Their feedback helped inform the final version of the documents.
More than 450 people have already used the materials, which are available for free on the NESsT website. Publications will be updated and extended with further cooperation with DLA Piper. Additional brochures are in the works, including one focusing on the social clause in public procurement law. NESsT invites representatives of the sector to share their suggestions and proposals of topics to be covered in the next publications.
In addition to developing the legal fact sheets, DLA Piper also provides individual support to social enterprises in the NESsT portfolio. Lawyers recently advised on the development of a franchise model for Siedlisko, a social enterprise in Poland that employs young people with intellectual disabilities in its senior care home and catering company. The DLA Piper team is also supporting Made in Roşia Montană, a social enterprise that provides income opportunities to women from rural community in Romania.
Later this year, NESsT Poland and DLA Piper plan to offer a series of open legal clinics, where social entrepreneurs can receive specific legal guidance.
*„Monitoring kondycji przedsiębiorstw społecznych w Małopolsce 2015”, Regional Centre for Social Policy in Cracow, page 70. „Przedsiębiorstwa społeczne: czynniki trwałości. Raport z I fazy monitoringu przedsiębiorstw społecznych”, Public Affairs Institute, 2011, page 63.