Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Corporate Greed Has Got to Go! Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Public Benefit Has Got to Take a Hold!

The need for a new type of corporation, where profits are no longer pursued at the expense of the employees, the environment and the local community is now reaching a fever pitch.  Just last night the Occupy Wall Street protesters were forcibly evicted from Zuccotti Park.  Today, protesters across the country march in solidarity – but for what exactly?   The power elite has not shown any sign of changing their ways, and the rest of us are left in the cold, without any new change.

I would say this about the Occupy Wall Street movement: it has been a critical first step in creating dialogue about the problem of corporate greed. However it is limiting, and has not yet produced a solution that will guide our country in a new direction.  Now that America is listening, it is time for the movement to organize towards solutions that put people back to work, that protect our environment and that require greater corporate transparency and accountability. 

I believe that California just may be on the forefront of this critical next step: one that will fundamentally shift the corporate culture.  Just last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two new laws that create the Benefit Corporation and the Flexible Purpose Corporation.  Starting January 1, 2012, existing and new corporations can elect to govern themselves for a public benefit purpose, with greater transparency and reporting to the public and shareholders.   

Consumers are already choosing to spend their hard earned dollars with companies that actively participate in their community, that take responsibility for their impact on the environment and that are voluntarily transparent.   These companies are part of an exploding new economy, estimated at 300 billion dollars in the U.S. alone.  Corporations which choose to hold themselves to these higher ethical standards will be far more likely to succeed financially over the long term, will enjoy greater consumer confidence and loyalty, and their employees will be more productive because they will know that their work is contributing positively to society.   

It is my belief that the Benefit Corporation and the Flexible Purpose Corporation will be a part of the answer to the current corporate culture of greed, that these two new corporate structures will be a positive rallying point to address the sentiment of the 99%, whether you are out there protesting or inwardly hoping for a real shift.     

I look forward to being a part of this change, and encourage anyone who wants to know more about how to form a Benefit Corporation or a Flexible Purpose Corporation to contact my office for more information.   If you are in the Santa Monica Area, please register for my lunch event tomorrow titled:  Social Enterprise: Innovative New Business Structures for People Planet and Profit where I will be talking in more detail about these new options. To learn more, and to register go to: http://socialenterpriseevent.eventbrite.com/

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Goodbye from Grace!

Dear Readers,

This is my last blog article on LA Green Lawyer! My law school career begins this week and for the next three years you will find me studying and engaging with my peers at the UCLA School of Law.

I want to thank you for your continued support for this blog and for Becki’s law firm: The Law Office of Becki Kammerling. It has been an absolute pleasure learning and discovering new businesses, ideas, and workshops and sharing them here with you. I will be taking all of these experiences with me through law school, and although I may have never spoken with you in person, I do feel a connection with the green online community that I did not have a year ago. This blog has given me the chance to explore my passion and channel it in a fun, creative way.

It has been a wonderful past year and I thank you for being a part of it. I still plan on pursuing a degree in environmental law, so keep an eye out for me!

Wishing you all the best,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Building Good Karma

A wonderful L3C that I have had the privilege to learn about working at the Law Office of Becki Kammerling is Karma Builders L3C. A social enterprise located in The Bronx, New York, Karma Builders trains and employs formerly incarcerated individuals in the service of woodworking for local sustainable companies. Through a six-month program, these individuals are trained in green woodworking and assembly and are also introduced to yoga and mindfulness. It is a very unique idea, I think, and one that will allow these individuals to finish the program with a strong skill set to enter the workforce and an enlightened perspective on life. What better way to help them become positive citizens in society!

Karma Builders- helping to break the vicious cycle of unemployment and re-incarceration

Karma Builders is a great organization and a fantastic example of a true L3C. In fact, they are currently in the running to receive the “Philanthropic Small Business of the Year” award from the Classy Awards, the largest philanthropic award ceremony in the United States. This award would be an amazing acknowledgement for them, so please vote for them here: http://classyawards.stayclassy.org/classy-awards/voting. From that page, scroll down to the bottom to "Philanthropic Small Business of the Year" and click to find Karma Builders. Then head to the top of the page and submit your vote! (You do not need to vote for the other categories if you do not want, just specify you would only like to vote for that one category)

Whether you are an entrepreneur yourself or are simply interested in social change, please take the time to learn more about Karma Builders L3C and cast your vote to help them achieve the Classy Award! Voting ends August 26th!

To find out more about what an L3C is, check out Becki's blog post at: http://lagreenlawyer.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-is-l3c.html

What is an L3C?

Social entrepreneurs and new start-up companies are taking advantage of a new legal entity: the L3C (low-profit limited liability company).   

An L3C functions much like an LLC and any other for-profit company except that earning a profit takes a back seat to providing a social benefit to society.  This legally allows the managers of the L3C to achieve their organization’s social mission without violating duties to the company’s investors in the event that that social mission does not “maximize profits” in a traditional sense.

Another benefit of forming an L3C is that it may attract investment from foundations.  Foundations are non-profit organizations that, under certain circumstances, can  invest in for-profit companies.  However, these investments, called Program Related Investments, require that the investment further the public benefit purpose of the foundation.  For example a foundation which  has a purpose to educate at risk youth could invest in an  L3C whose mission, through its for-profit venture,  is also to provide education to at risk youth.  Not only does the L3C benefit by having a like-minded investor, the foundation has the opportunity to increase their funds through receiving a return on their investment. 

The  L3C, while still new,  has the potential to enhance the business world with a fresh and sustainable approach to doing business as well as the potential to increase the amount of money available to traditional foundations. 

If you would like more information about setting up an L3C or a social benefit company please contact my law office