The Neighborhood Business Initiative

We promote equity and support wealth creation in historically excluded communities by providing pro bono legal services to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Access to Justice. Community Development. Equity for All.

The mission of the Neighborhood Business Initiative (NBI), a Goodwin-run pro bono program, is to bring business-related legal services to the front doors of entrepreneurs and small business owners who are members of, or whose businesses positively impact, communities that face discrimination based on race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender and/or LGBTQ+ status.

Our Story

In 2001, we collaborated with the Economic Justice Project of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association and Accion U.S.A. to help a corner grocery store owned by a Brazilian immigrant secure a working capital loan. The success of this transaction inspired an ongoing partnership to support Boston neighborhood entrepreneurs and small business owners through direct representation, workshops on business law topics, and legal clinics.

During its early years, the initiative was a true grassroots operation. Our lawyers would often go on listening tours in Boston neighborhoods to speak with local small businesses and understand — from their own perspective — their most pressing needs. In 2005, we formalized NBI as an in-house legal services organization led by a steering committee of lawyers and professionals. The initiative has since continued to grow internally — expanding to New York in 2013, California in 2016 and Washington, D.C. and the United Kingdom in 2021 — and externally through new community partnerships and neighborhoods.

Today, after over 20 years since NBI’s founding, our local committees of lawyers and business professionals continue to expand and evolve the ways in which we support entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Our Services

Our lawyers, in-house counsel and legal paraprofessionals provide pro bono transactional legal services that align with their expertise to help entrepreneurs and small business owners take their business to the next level.
Direct Representation
We provide one-on-on legal representation to our clients on a range of matters.
We bring resources directly into neighborhoods by offering workshops in collaboration with local community development organizations, including catering and contracts, crowdfunding, doing business online, and enrollment contracts and hiring employees for childcare providers.
Our clinics consist of thoughtful, experience-driven curriculum and a comprehensive screening, intake, and staffing infrastructure to effectively cover sessions like business and legal speed coaching.

By the Numbers

workshops and clinics offered to date
entrepreneurs and small business owners represented
lawyers and professionals who have invested more than 35,400 hours over the past 20 years

NBI's impact over the years

Hear from our clients about how NBI helped their businesses grow.

Community Partners

We value our relationships with our community partners, an inspiring group of development organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, and legal services organizations, that enable us to provide legal services and resources to neighborhoods and design curriculum that is responsive to the needs of the communities where we live and work.

A representative list of our community partners includes:

  • Commonwealth Kitchen (MA)
  • Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) at Brooklyn Law School (NY)
  • Communitas Ventures (NY)
  • DC Bar Pro Bono Center (DC)
  • Lawyers for Civil Rights (MA)
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights – Legal Services for Entrepreneurs (CA)
  • North Bennett Street School (MA)
  • Public Counsel (CA)
  • Start Small Think Big (NY & CA)
  • The Legal Aid Society Community Development Project (NY)

Get in Touch

To learn more about our NBI program or for inquiries, please contact