Community development can take place on any corner of any block of any U.S. city’s struggling but striving and ever-changing neighborhoods. For the Public Service Project (PSP), community development is about supporting smart grassroots efforts to create, sustain and expand employment; stabilize households; deliver social services and healthcare; nurture and educate and graduate youth; help one storefront or one public space at a time; support the elderly; employ the jobless and train the underemployed; and bring some measure of increased economic, family and household security.
What these efforts have in common is an effort to lower institutional barriers to advancement and opportunity. The PSP organizes pro bono community development in two categories: small businesses and nonprofit organizations. We have been providing both kinds of counsel for over 20 years. While these two kinds of clients are very different in terms of their legal needs, their community impact overlap. Both enterprises provide core goods and services and both, if successful, contribute to a roll-back of institutional poverty and an advancement of security and opportunity.
In addition to direct and often sustained representation – ongoing counsel on a variety of legal issues – the PSP contributes to community development and local empowerment by leading clinics, workshops and presentations of various kinds on various topics, such as corporate structure and commercial leasing and maintaining long-term partnerships with community-based services providers, such as IMPACCT Brooklyn.
Socio-economic transformation can begin on a street corner, but without basic legal help it might never take root, or once started, might quickly wither. To support micro-entrepreneurs, the PSP calls on multiple skillsets from its various transactional practice groups to help turn what was once a dream into a life-changing reality. Nonprofit organizations are a critical sector of New York City’s economic and social fabric. The PSP has represented hundreds of intrepid nonprofits, for discrete issues or as general counsel.
Community economic development work brings our attorneys in close contact with a wide range of clients and communities, as well as public and private entities, all contributing to citywide community revitalization.
Since the launch of the PSP in 2001, we have been a leader in small business and nonprofit pro bono legal assistance. Our leadership was recognized in 2009, when we were named by the ABA as the Transactional Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year.