Community Development and Entrepreneurship


The Community Development & Entrepreneurship Practice at Northeast Legal Aid helps low-income clients overcome barriers to small business-led growth that benefits the communities of Northeastern Massachusetts, with a focus on Lynn, Lawrence and Lowell.


NLA provides free legal assistance to small businesses on transactional matters (i.e., not litigation in a court). These services include:

–    Business formation (i.e., creating corporations, LLCs, partnerships)
–    Business licensing , permitting and zoning
–    Tax planning and compliance
–    Financing agreements
–    Customer and contractor agreements
–    Commercial real estate leases
–    Employment law
–    Trademark searches and applications

We represent clients on specific matters. We can also present to groups on common legal issues for small businesses and hold "office hours" at community organizations to offer brief advice to walk-in entrepreneurs.


We serve small businesses and entrepreneurs located in Essex and No. Middlesex Counties. Due to limited capacity, we cannot provide representation to all clients in our service area. We evaluate the following factors in determining eligibility for representation:

–    Client financial situation (household income and assets)
–    Potential for community benefit, e.g.,

  • Job creation
  • Neighborhood revitalization
  • Provision of a service needed in the community (e.g., daycare)

–    Availability of other assistance
–    Current capacity to take on new clients  

Please contact Sumbul Siddiqui at to apply for services.

In the News

Equal Justice Coalition #legalaidchangeslives campaign profile of practice and client, April 12, 2016

Boston Globe, “Low-Income Entrepreneurs Welcome Added Assistance” October 12, 2015

Boston Business Journal, “New program offers free legal help to low-income entrepreneurs
December 29, 2014

The Daily Item, “Free legal advice worth a fortune to small business” November 19, 2014