B Corp Experts Weigh In: Q&A with Lisa Garrison

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.

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5 Questions with B-Corp Innovator Lisa Fournier

Lisa Fournier, Founder of Norfolk Fair Trade Co.

Lisa Fournier isn’t your average B-Corp business owner. The founder of Norfolk Fair Trade Co., she’s also the author of “The Barnabas Effect,” an entrepreneurial blueprint for communities and entrepreneurs on how to work together to build a stronger and more successful society. It’s not often that we get to interview with business owners turned authors in the B-Corp community and today we got the chance to chat with Lisa on her entrepreneurial roots, the trends she believes will impact benefit corporations, and why her next step forward involves education on stakeholder networks.

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B Corp vs. Benefit Corporation: Similar Names, Different Duties

With all this “B Corp” buzz in the air, it’s time to get one thing straight: the Benefit Corporation and the “B Corp” are not created equal. The terms are often used interchangeably, and it’s not necessarily wrong to say “B Corporation” or “B Corp” to informally describe a Benefit Corporation either.  People understandably confuse the two, since both similarly aspire to cement a social or environmental purpose in a company’s mission and corporate governance structure.

But there is still a key difference between the pair: the benefit corporation is a legal entity recognized under a state’s corporate laws, while the “B Corporation” (or B Corp) is a certification conferred upon a company by a certifying organization.  A company can be a B Corp without being a Benefit Corporation – and vice versa – but it’s important to know that while these two sound similar enough at first glance, they actually function fairly differently from one another.

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