Young entrepreneurs and voluntary groups are being trained by City firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary as part of a series of events backed by Barclays Bank and Ford Motor Company.
DLA Piper launched the programme of business and legal skills seminars for young businesspeople and local not-for-profit organisations towards the end of 2005 during Enterprise Week. The series of events, which will take place throughout 2006, are part of the firm's involvement with the London Youth Support Trust, which provides advice as well as subsidised workspace for businesses in the community, and the Solicitors Pro Bono Group.
Elaine Radford, head of corporate social responsibility at DLA Piper, says: "Being involved with the Trust and the Solicitors Pro Bono Group is an excellent way for the firm to work in the community to encourage those with entrepreneurial potential."
The first seminar, presented by Ford in-houser David Robinson and DLA Piper's head of business marketing Anne Blackman, dealt with the key elements of contracts to ensure the businesses involved were fully aware of their legal rights, as well as looking at the implementation of successful marketing strategies.
The London Youth Support Trust is currently helping more than 50 businesses in deprived areas of London by providing affordable rent in business incubation centres, as well as offering advice and running networking groups. The trust's centres are located in Hackney and Deptford, with additional centres planned for 2006.
Radford says: "Starting your own business or running a not-for-profit organisation can be very difficult without the right advice, so we aim to give a broad range of legal and general business information to help them on their way. We also want to get more of our business contacts and clients involved, as our scheme also offers in-house lawyers the chance to get involved in pro bono activity."
According to trustee Lord Young, since the initiative began in 2001, 70 per cent of the businesses involved have gone on to operate successfully and have been able to move away from the trust's subsidised workspaces.
"This unique talks programme gives hard to reach young people excellent support and advice, ensuring that they're aware of their legal rights and helping them to understand further the intricacies of running a successful business," says Young.