Company: Gibbons P.C.
Innovation Title: Gibbons Diversity Initiative (GDI) and the Gibbons Cares pro bono program
Company Website: www.gibbonslaw.com
Year Introduced: 2020-2022
What Makes this Initiative Unique:
Since 2020, Gibbons P.C., led by the Gibbons Diversity Initiative (GDI) and the Gibbons Cares pro bono program, launched three pro bono efforts to assist small, minority-owned businesses throughout New Jersey that typically face hurdles in financing and sustaining their operations and have limited access to services and resources:
- “Small Businesses Need Us” (SBNU), an initiative of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership in which Gibbons is a partner
- Equitable Small Business Initiative (ESBI), a joint venture structured by Gibbons for two longtime clients: New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) and the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ)
- AACCNJ Pro Bono Alliance, a partnership with Gibbons
The Why Behind the Purpose:
SBNU mobilizes professionals throughout the business community to help small women- and minority- owned businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19. The ESBI provides Black business enterprises (BBEs), including those economically affected by the pandemic, access to wide-ranging business-related resources. The AACCNJ Pro Bono Alliance provides free legal counsel and advice to AACCNJ members to launch, sustain, calibrate, or advance their businesses.
The Positive Change:
SBNU and the AACCNJ Pro Bono Alliance connect participating businesses with legal service providers specializing in employment, real estate, intellectual property, data privacy and security, and other areas to meet these businesses’ specific needs.
With a multimillion-dollar commitment, the ESBI facilitates access to business-related resources to New Jersey’s BBEs and provides them with hands-on, customized support, pandemic relief loans, and critical capital.
In 2021 alone, participating Gibbons attorneys donated more than 645 hours to SBNU to clients, ranging from a STEM enrichment program for students to an event management company to a life and business empowerment coach.
The ESBI, in its first month, attracted outside contributions in support of its mission, including a $1 million commitment from a local foundation.
Since its establishment earlier this year, the AACCNJ Pro Bono Alliance has assisted many clients, including a business in a civil action to secure possession of a property that the business had purchased in foreclosure.
Through their involvement with SBNU, the ESBI, and the AACCNJ Pro Bono Alliance, GDI and Gibbons Cares are proving to play an integral role in helping small, diverse business owners thrive. In turn, these business owners are boosting the local economy by providing valuable services and creating jobs for people in Newark and other New Jersey communities, thus strengthening those communities.
Also through GDI and Gibbons Cares, the firm donates more than $1 million annually, particularly to the communities in which it resides. This financial support complements the provision of pro bono legal representation, which itself enables the firm’s participating attorneys to gain a valuable, firsthand look at the tangible ways their knowledge and experience are assisting small businesses.
As described above, these joint GDI-Gibbons Cares initiatives assist women- and minority- owned enterprises throughout New Jersey. SBNU specifically assists women- and minority- owned small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The ESBI addresses the business needs of Black business enterprises. The AACCNJ Pro Bono Alliance directly supports AACCNJ member companies, particularly legacy companies and independent practitioners.