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Edinburgh-based Shepherd & Wedderburn is working with youth enterprise charity the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) on a new online resource for Scottish entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 25 who are trying to set up businesses.
A section of the charity's website aims to help those young people with legal and accounting issues. Entrepreneurs helped by the trust can register online to ask business questions or read relevant legal articles.
Examples of questions asked so far have included the relative benefits of partnership or limited company status, issues over patents and copyright, and concerns about employment legislation.
The site will be managed and run by the PSYBT, with input from Shepherds. It will also have input from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, whose members will answer questions on accounting.
Shepherds marketing manager Suzanne Chaudhry says: "These are often fairly basic questions, but people can be afraid to approach lawyers in other situations. This is partly because law firms can be intimidating environments, but also because people often think that their questions are so basic that they think they'd be wasting a lawyer's time. This resource seeks to make sure they get the advice they need."
PSYBT is part of the Prince's Trust, a wider UK charity which provides training, mentoring and financial assistance to help 14 to 30-year-olds. It is Shepherds' annual charity partner for 2006.
Chaudhry said the relationship goes beyond straight pro bono work. "As part of our community plus programme, we were looking to tie up with a charity that would also tie up with the marketing objectives of the firm. The PSYBT had a project that allowed us to add value and also gave us access to its business supporters, all of whom are potential clients."
The firm is funding the resource, as well as contributing to the PSYBT's 'revolving loan' fund to clients.
PSYBT chief executive Mark Strudwick says: "Legal and financial issues are an unknown area for the majority of our clients, and now they can view questions and answers placed by other entrepreneurs, put forward their own questions and view relevant articles. The more people who visit the site the better, as the amount allocated to our revolving loan fund by Shepherd & Wedderburn will be directly linked to the number of registrations on the site."