Lisa Garrison, Attorney, Smith Moore Leatherwood
At the firm of Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, Lisa Garrison maintains an active business litigation practice advising and representing clients in anything from claim appeals to multiple jury trials, but she also has an active presence with companies that have socially beneficial missions. Lisa serves as the founder of the firm’s “Benefit Corporation Team” or the “B Team” which focuses on exploring and serving the legal needs of aspiring or existing “benefit” or “B Corp” companies – for-profit businesses that seek to better the world through identified social missions and by focusing on sustainability and TPL/3BL (the “triple bottom line” pillars of profits, people, and planet).
Today, we’re discussing with Lisa how the “B Team” came to be at Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP and the assistance it provides Benefit Corporations in need, the financial advantages that come with forming a B Corp, and why every entrepreneur needs to read up on the pros and cons of Benefit Corporations before starting one up.
Jay Coen Gilbert, B Lab Cofounder
When we first started taking a closer look at benefit corporations, we were really building off of the momentum that began with B Lab, the nonprofit that pushes for Benefit Corporation legislation and certifies B Corps. Little did we know, we’d be interviewing Jay Coen Gilbert, one of the three cofounders of B Lab, on our blog! We were so excited, we added a few extra questions in today’s interview where Jay tells us about the benefits forming a B Corp brings to society and the environment, and that for all companies, it’s most important to take the first step and see where you stand.
1. What’s the source of your passion and inspiration that drove you into your leading role in the Benefit Corporation movement?
B Lab’s three cofounders, Bart Houlahan, Andrew Kassoy and I (Jay Coen Gilbert), all share a passion for using market forces to address society’s greatest challenges. We’ve worked in business for most of our careers and hope to harness the amazing talent, passion and resources we’ve seen there to make a better world. Ultimately, we founded B Lab to serve those entrepreneurs who are using business as a force for good.
Our blog has taken a turn for the Benefit Corporation lately, inspired by the momentum started by B Lab, the founders behind the movement, and this month we’ve created an infographic on how this fairly new entity has been taking the nation by storm. 20 states, along with Washington D.C., have passed Benefit Corporation legislature and our infographic goes in depth to discuss the growth of the B-Corp to come, a look at a few famous companies that you might not know are B-Corps, and a timeline that looks into how long it took states like California, Maryland, and Delaware to enact Benefit Corporation legislation.
Entrepreneurs, take note! There’s big news on the B Corporation front – this August, Delaware became the 19th state to enact benefit corporation legislation, a move that signals the new business entity’s staying power.
While it’s true that 18 other states and D.C. are already on board the B Corp train, Delaware has an especially longstanding, notable reputation as a corporate haven, and as an important and influential player in the business community. In other words, people in business pay extra attention to Delaware, and when Delaware passed benefit corporation legislation, it was a very big deal. The state’s legal recognition of benefit corporations will spark more momentum for a movement that aims to sink legal teeth into the notion that companies should mold their missions to benefit society as a whole, instead of primarily focusing on maximizing profits for shareholders.