Just a quick message to share an article I recently published in the Idaho Advocate, Enforcing the "Benefit" Part of Benefit Corporations." A benefit corporation is a legal entity form that creates a duty for managers to consider a wide range of stakeholders and to strive to create positive social and environmental impacts. Social entrepreneurs around the country are choosing this form and doing amazing work! My July 2019 article covers issues related to accountability and enforcement - what happens when the promises are not being fulfilled or results are not being achieved? Check it out on the Idaho Advocate website or by going to my Education page.
My next article entitled, "Entity Selection for Social Entrepreneurs" will be published this fall and I will send it to you! Please contact me if you want to discuss how to incorporate your commitment to social good into your legal business framework!
PS: You're invited to the SOFT OPENING for my new plant-based apothecary, The Vervain Collective! This has been my passion project for the last 2 years and we're finally ready to open up to our community and are super happy to be inside the Roots Zero Waste Market!
Thank you for reading! I hope you are finding plenty of opportunities to feel joyful!
Greetings People Who are Reading This!
I just finished a snack taco while drafting a proposal for a potential new consulting client, which I made after squeezing in some gardening time in between rain showers. I do love working from home, as it feeds my need to flow with my go! Despite what you might think, I am not a disciplined "sit down and get this done" kind of person. I've tried lots of techniques, but I've realized that listening to my intuition and doing the work that feeds me in that moment works best for me. The challenge is not putting my true self down - I'm a high performing slacker and proud of it! Ha!
Currently, I'm feeling like writing a long letter to you! So, in my last musing, I shared a bit of woe about a failed business relationship and alluded to bigger and better things on the horizon! I am STOOOOOOOOKED and honored to finally be ready to share a new chapter in this amusing book of life.
Dr. Nicole Pierce, Carolyn Swenson, and I formed The Vervain Collective to support the natural health community - the professionals, the health conscious, and the curious; the growers, the makers, and the dabblers. Together, we collectively learn about and celebrate relationships between plants, minerals, fungi, microorganisms, and each other! Our plant-based apothecary will have a treatment/consultation room for natural health practitioners and a community education space! We're opening inside the Roots Zero Waste Market in late spring! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook!
Here are some happy shots of Vervain's official launch at Yogafort this March! Our booth was a hit and we got to talk to a lot of people about the special opportunities ahead!
I'm going to still be a lawyer!
I've been reflecting on the funny-ness of life and the many circles we travel through. When I was a freshman in college, I was pre-med pursuing a career in alternative medicine. Then for a few reasons (including almost failing organic chemistry!) I chose law school instead. I never stopped loving plants or believing in the healing power of nature. I'm super in love with my niche private practice, and I'm so grateful that I am able to pursue Vervain as well. Part-time lawyer, part-time sustainability consultant, part-time apothecary owner! Full-time Kelsey Jae!
Selected Things to Say About Lawyering:
* Social entrepreneurship - I believe in the mission of B Lab, which is "using business as a force for good". The creation of a rigorous and ambitious third-party standard to measure a broad scope of issues (workers, environment, government, supply chain, community, etc.) helps to eliminate greenwashing. If you can't back it up, it's getting harder to say it with a straight face. That said, pursuing a B-Corp Certification isn't ideal for all businesses. Deciding whether it's worth it is a decision based on factors such as the need for transparency and accountability and the need to distinguish yourself in the marketplace.
Even if you don't have the intention of getting certified, doing the Impact Assessment is illuminating. You take the assessment and get a score. Usually, it's pretty low the first time you do it because you have yet to focus on documentation of the issues it tests. The assessment comes with an Improvement Report which gives you targeted ways you can improve and get more points. Then, after you implement some/all of the suggested improvements, you get back in the assessment and update your answers. Once you get to 80 points, you submit for approval. Then a staff member is assigned to you and they grill you and ask for more proof. If you stay above 80, you can become a Certified B Corp!
Full disclosure, I have had a hard time getting certified as a solo practitioner lawyer in a single member LLC. Even though social entrepreneurship has been my guide, it's hard to get points in governance, workers, and supply chain when I work from home from a laptop. BUT, I am not abandoning the effort! My consulting company, Warm Springs Consulting, earned our certification last year. And I will be pursuing it for The Vervain Collective as well.
If you (or your colleagues or other attorneys) want to know more about the law of social entrepreneurship, you know where to find me!
* "Low-Bono" - Being accessible to my community is important to me, and I've tried to create a compensation model that allows me to meet my needs while helping awesome people who might otherwise forgo legal representation due to cost. I love the term "low-bono" - a concept that applies to offering modest rates to clients of modest means. My clients on the lower end of my sliding scale are brilliant, ambitious, courageous, and inspiring. Please help spread the word that I do not turn people away for lack of funds if their needs align with my values and we are able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement.
* Child Protection Cases - I am in my second year of volunteering for the Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardian ad Litem program. It has been empowering - and very sad at times. I'm glad that this program exists to step in and in most cases stop child abuse and neglect and get families the help they need. Please consider volunteering - we need more volunteer lawyers and guardians (non-lawyers).
* Nonprofit Law: From Incubation to Fundraising - Here is a link to a great video/CLE from the Sustainable Economies Law Center, a source of great inspiration to me.
Alright friends - it's been a long letter. I have a few more "billable" things to tend to before doing some laundry and hitting dance class!
Be not-too-safe out there! Strive to find what moves you and move with it!
Haaaappy New Year!
I really love the symbolism of the fresh start, and this year marks 3 years since I launched my solo law practice. What an adventure! I've been enjoying interacting with a growing book of amazing clients - most of whom were or have become friends. While I've been told it's ill-advised to get emotionally connected to work, I've never been able to separate "work Kelsey" from "real life Kelsey". To me, it's all LIFE. And feeling connected to the people I work with is critical to my well being. I hope my service as an attorney helps my clients do well in their chosen ventures while appreciating the interconnected nature of law and community. I choose to honor the role of love in our economic relationships.
Are you with me?!?! You must be - you're still reading! Hahaha!
Since this is a new year newsletter, I'll share some highlights of last year - including both celebrations and setbacks, because we all know that a full life includes both.
I'M SO GRATEFUL for all of the ups and downs. I'm reminded to let go of attachments and the need to control the world around me. I'm grateful for the fear because it shows me what is possible. I'm grateful for Idaho because it is full of amazing people who hold me up and love me.
And I'm grateful for you. Let's stay in touch this year!
It's been a while since I sent out an update, which is just a sign of how much life I have going on! All is well in my neck of the woods, and I will have an exciting announcement coming out next month so get ready!
In my practice, I spend a lot of time talking to people about social entrepreneurship or using business to create positive impacts to people, the planet, and profits. This topic has been near and dear to me since college when I studied the game theory of corporate social responsibility. In law school, I dived deep into the law governing businesses that sought to do well while doing good. Now, as an attorney, I dedicate most of my time to helping kind and compassionate bad asses succeed in this realm of social enterprise! I feel honored to have so many opportunities to fulfill my mission of helping awesome people do awesome things!
Recognizing that many people don't know what a "benefit corporation" or "Certified B-Corp" is, or why these business forms exist, I co-authored an article for Idaho's monthly lawyer magazine, "The Advocate". This article provides a great overview and will get you up to speed, and I'd love to talk to you more about your views on the issues.
Click here if you're interested in reading the article, and remember that I have other educational materials on my website!
Thank you for reading! I hope you are finding plenty of opportunities to feel joyful!
Winter is not my favorite time of the year, but I am doing my best to have fun and enjoy what this season allows - calm focus, planning, and introspection. Aside from fantasizing about my garden, which will be AMAZING this year thanks to the farm internship I had with Earthly Delights, I've been working on spreading the message about the law of the sharing economy, cooperative culture, and social enterprise. I'm writing to let you know that I will be teaching a course through Boise Community Ed this Wednesday, January 25. If you'd like to attend "Joining the Sharing Economy", please register through their website. Or, if you'd like me to meet with you and your group of friends/colleagues, we can arrange another showing! Of course, I will also put the presentation on my website.
While I've got you on the line, let me remind you:
I am committed to being accessible. It is part of my personal mission to do what I love by helping awesome people do awesome things. I understand that social entrepreneurs and those focused on sharing and cooperation often hesitate to reach out to attorneys due to costs. To reduce barriers to building a relationship with a like-minded attorney, I offer sliding scale hourly rates and flat fees, as well as a newish Legal Coaching Subscription Service, which welcomes frequent calls, brainstorming chats, and document review/interpretation in exchange for a $150/month subscription. Limits apply - READ MORE.
I love giving presentations to audiences of great people. Learning about interesting topics and sharing what I discover is a favorite activity of mine. In addition to the Joining the Sharing Economy presentation this week, I recently presented on how to support our sustainable food economy with creative and collaborative legal agreements. I am currently working on one dedicated to how local businesses can raise capital from within our community. I always post my slides and handouts on my website; please check it out!
I can help you finally get to that will you've been avoiding! It's hard to acknowledge our mortality or really think about what we want to happen when our souls transition out of this world. If you've been worried about this, and think you'd like me to help guide you, please contact me! I offer great flat rates for simple will packages.
Thank you for reading! I hope you are finding plenty of opportunities to feel joyful!
This is me having fun on the farm! Getting turnt with the best turnips ever and leaking tears of joy at our leek harvest. I was really excited to finally get a pair of Carhartts, too.
It's been almost one full year since I left my day job to start my own law practice, and I'm proud to say that I still think I'm on the right path! My firm is a transactional practice dedicated to supporting social enterprise, cooperative culture, and the sharing economy. Focusing on this niche is exciting because there is so much to learn and I am able to be creative while helping do-gooders that inspire me. I feel super grateful for the clients who have invited me into their lives and businesses, and I am eager to continue strengthening the collaborative ties in this growing movement. Here is a smattering of news items I thought you might find interesting.
I am committed to being accessible to my community. I'm pleased to announce my new Legal Coaching Subscription Service! I explored this idea for several months as I sat with the truth that many of the individuals and organizations I admire and want to work with operate on very tight margins and hesitate to reach out to an attorney. I find it unfortunate that so many good people feel that legal advice is too expensive, and I want to diffuse that situation for my clients. To expand my menu of flexible billing options, I have created the Legal Coaching Subscription Service! By welcoming frequent calls, brainstorming chats, and document review/interpretation in exchange for a $150/month subscription, I hope to reduce barriers to seeking legal advice and build deeper connections with my clients. READ MORE.
Benefit Corporations, B-Corps, and Worker Cooperatives are awesome!Last week, Boise State University and the Small Business Development Center collaborated to bring us Boise Startup Week. I was absolutely honored to present on Social Enterprise and the Law. We discussed the difference between a Benefit Corporation and a B Corp (one's a legal business form under state law, one is a third party certification), why they were needed in the first place (to secure the place of social enterprise in the corporate model and protect against shareholder primacy), and other creative and beneficial models (democratic worker cooperatives, LLCs with social missions, and employee stock ownership plans). I have been stoked on this topic since college and am excited that this field continues to grow. Check out the presentation and feel free to share!
Sustainable Agriculture continues to call me in. A robust regional food economy and seed shed is developing! I have always admired the hard-working farmers committed to sustainable and ethical agriculture, and I feel much more appreciative now that I have tried what "farm life" is like. For the last 8 months, I've been a community supported agriculture/seed saving apprentice at Earthly Delights Farm, whose founder is also the founder of the Snake River Seed Cooperative. That is CHALLENGING WORK! But it is so rewarding! I wanted the experience so I could be a bad ass gardener for the rest of my life, but also to get more "dirt cred" with the community of farmers I hope to work for! Ha! In between planting hot crops and traveling around Idaho, I presented Hot Topics in Sustainable Agriculture to my Legal Fellows at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. The presentation is pretty cool if you want to check it out - there are a lot of issues to work on in this sector. It was also a follow up to the article I wrote on the Food Safety Modernization Act and Direct-to-Consumer business models for Idaho's lawyer magazine, The Advocate.
I've been asked, "who is your dream client?" In response, I offer this list prepared by my friend at the Sustainable Economies Law Center:
Yeah! All those things moooooooove me. Let's do it!
Thank you for your support and friendship!
Happy summer! This truly is my favorite time of year. While living in Boise has helped me appreciate all four seasons for their uniqueness, my soul is nourished for the whole year after a few months of heat, swimming, music festivals, and camping! As we approach Independence Day, I am reflecting on the importance of freedom to me, and how much I value being able to do what I want when I want to do it . . . and how frustrated I feel when I am stuck in a pattern that someone else seems to control. This is true in my relationships and career choices, and it also applies to how I shape my personal space at home.
I feel free and creative when I experiment in the yard and garden, and my priority is creating an edible landscape that welcomes a vibrant and diverse ecosystem in tune with the local climate and free of toxic chemicals. I would feel so inhibited if I lived in a community with rules that told me I couldn’t create the scene I wanted. And yet, so many people live in regulated communities with strict covenants, conditions, and restrictions (“CC&Rs”) that limit their efforts to be more sustainable through xeriscaping, urban agriculture, nontoxic maintenance, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
Several years ago, I partnered with the Idaho Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council to address this issue, and we published a report called, Greening Your CC&Rs: Strategies to Improve the Sustainability of Your Neighborhood (followed by a synopsis in The Advocate). This report outlines problematic language, suggests better rules as alternatives, and describes the various procedures for how to implement change. In the name of freedom and independence, I have decided that it is time to dust off this report and get back to work on helping people eliminate outdated HOA rules. Because to me, there are few things more annoying than a rule I don’t want to follow!
Instead of rules that mandate poisons to kill weeds, how about rules that encourage species diversity and healthy soil? Instead of rules that characterize clotheslines and solar panels as unsightly, how about policies that value energy conservation and renewables? Most CC&Rs have an assortment of provisions that inhibit sustainable actions, and people tend to be unaware of them until they want to implement prohibited techniques. But we can be proactive and change the rules instead!
I’d love the chance to meet with homeowners associations and subdivision residents to come up with solutions that will build community and improve the ecological value of our neighborhoods! Please contact me if you’re interested, and share this message with others!
These are energizing times! Socially and environmentally conscious entrepreneurs and community leaders are placing more value on sharing and cooperation, and our economy is changing as compassion for others plays a bigger role in business. Even so, many laws currently on the books present barriers to the sustainable models we need, and conventional legal practice can discourage cooperation and sharing when people emphasize scarcity and power. The legal profession has much room to grow to support a more loving world, and I am committed to practicing law in a way that encourages social enterprise, cooperative culture, and a sharing-based economy.
I’ve been studying Janelle Orsi’s book, Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy, and am grateful for the recent invitation to become a Legal Fellowat the Sustainable Economies Law Center! These connections are inspiring me with new knowledge to bring to the many exciting opportunities ahead of us in Idaho. The types of legal counseling I look forward to providing include:
Thank you for reading this! My professional mission is to help awesome people do awesome things, and I’m looking forward to meeting more people and exploring this vision together. Learn more about me and please contact me with ideas!
One of my favorite things to do is think, and I love exchanging knowledge with people trying to improve our community. This space is for me to share some of my musings in the hopes of adding more layers to our collective conversation. Please comment and share freely!