At the start of every blockbuster technology or landmark non-profit is an individual with a new idea. Recognizing the importance of this group of entrepreneurs to the future economy of North Carolina, Patrick Johnson helped create the North Carolina Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (NC LEAP).
NC LEAP is a statewide economic development program that provides free legal services to low-wealth small businesses. In order to qualify for NC LEAP, you must be a small business owner, located in North Carolina and making less than 80% of the state median income for a household of your size.
NC LEAP commenced operations in June 2007 and serves clients throughout our state.
Patrick currently serves as Chair of the Steering Committee for the organization. Through NC LEAP, business and transactional lawyers provide pro bono legal services within their areas of expertise to assist low-wealth entrepreneurs in starting or expanding their businesses. Services range from basic transactional legal needs as struggling entrepreneurs strive to establish their business and create jobs, to potential long term client-counselor relations as their businesses grow.
Under Patrick’s leadership the Steering Committee coalesced and distinct subcommittees were formed to fund the program and provide support and leadership. As a result of Patrick’s efforts, the Steering Committee received volunteer commitments from all of the largest business law firms in the state and raised over $300,000 in support of the program. Brooks Pierce was the first donor to NC LEAP - pledging $15,000 over a period of three years.
While his volunteer time is certainly noteworthy, it is the impact of his work that is most significant. In large part because of Patrick Johnson, NC LEAP exists and has been able to help 301 entrepreneurs with 383 matters at a time when small business growth is vital to rural and low-wealth communities. Those clients currently have 408 employees, but the number of projected employees totals upwards of 1300.