If you are a low-wealth business owner, a for-profit business expanding operations into an economically distressed community, or an established nonprofit serving an economically distressed community, NC LEAP may be able to provide assistance with your business legal needs.
Am I a potential NC LEAP Client?
NC LEAP clients are:
- Low-income individuals who want to start or grow a for-profit business;
- For-profit businesses expanding operations into economically distressed neighborhoods and communities; and
- Established nonprofit organizations serving economically distressed communities. (We do not help with forming a 501(c)(3) or any other nonprofit entity. You must be established.)
Low-income is defined as earning less than 80% of the median income relative to your location and family size. Click here for an income-eligibility chart.
NC LEAP will review all applications, but for a client to be accepted into the program they need to:
- Have a business plan;
- Possess a projection for profitability or the ability to break even within two (2) years;
- Have worked with or completed a business development program, or have a minimum of one year's experience running a business;
- Not be pursuing the business as a hobby under IRS definitions;
- Either be low-income or have a for-profit business that exists in, or will assist in developing, an economically distressed neighborhood or community; and
- Have a potential impact on the community by providing jobs, economic activity or other contributions to the community in which the business is located.
- Applicants seeking help with patent filings should have completed a marketability study and should submit proof of financial resources sufficient to undertake the patent prosecution process.
- If operating a nonprofit organization, the organization must be already established, hold current 501(c) status with the IRS, be current with all required tax filings, and be seeking assistance with a business law-related problem. Please note, any nonprofit applying for assistance will be given a high level of scrutiny, and help may not be available dependent on other for-profit business demands on volunteers' time.
In considering your application, NC LEAP also looks at:
- Business & personal access to credit and capital;
- Business & family adjusted gross income;
- Family size; and
- Business and personal assets.
What is the process for becoming an NC LEAP Client?
- Complete an NC LEAP application and send it to us with all attachments. We accept applications online only. Applications will not be considered until you have submitted your business plan and a current tax filing for income verification.
- We will screen you for income eligibility and to determine if your legal issue is one we can handle.
- If you are eligible we will refer your case to an attorney with the time and expertise to handle your case. That attorney must then conduct a check to make sure there is no conflict of interest in his/her handling your matter.
- This process may take a few weeks so please be patient. Once everything is clear, you will receive a letter from NC LEAP with your attorney's name and phone number.
- Call your attorney within seven(7) days of receipt of our letter.
- Remember, while legal fees are pro bono, clients are still expected to pay out of pocket expenses related to their matter (i.e. filing or application fees).
Click here for current eligibility guidelines
Where can I go if I'm not eligible for NC LEAP services?
Duke University Law School
Community Enterprise Clinic
University of North Carolina School of Law
Community Development Law Clinic
North Carolina Lawyer Referral Service
NC Find-a-Lawyer online
Local/out of state: (919) 677-8574
In state: 1-800-662-7660