South Florida law firm launches initiative to provide free legal services for Black-owned hospitality startups

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 17:34:07-04

A local law firm is giving back to the community by offering free legal help for black-owned hospitality startups.

"Even now potentially going back into shutting down again, that’s fearful for my customers because if they’re not making money being able to welcome guests they don’t have a need for my technology. So if they’re affected, I’m affected,” said Samella Watson, founder & CEO of Sebiya.

The majority of the businesses that have been affected by the pandemic are in the hospitality industry. A huge concern for new business owners like Samella. She started a company called Sebiya, an app that’s designed to provide full-service travel experiences for guests.

“I’m in the travel hospitality business. My business has been heavily effected because as we all know short term closes were forced to close along with hotels, and those are my customers,” added Samella.

“This is kind of a historic thing that we’re seeing here and we want to do something, something concrete that we can actually try and make a difference,” said Michelle White, attorney at AXS Law Group.

The financial struggle brought about from the coronavirus stacked on top of the tragic killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer, inspired AXS Law group to offer pro bono legal services to start up hospitality black business owners.

“We’re going to provide organizational documents, how to get an EIN number, how to do your filing with the state to get that done. Trademark and patent work. We’re going to do lease negotiations if we’re talking about a restaurant,” said Michelle.

Michelle says the main point is to help their clients get started and lead them into the right direction.

“Our vision with this is to be able to make a difference in a real impactful way. A way that we can actually see the results and see the change that we’re helping for people in our community,” added Michelle.

“I think how important it is to see how small companies not only recover and bounce back but how the community is helping one another. I think that just sets the bar that much higher moving forward once the pandemic is behind us. It makes me want to be able to see how I can give back to others and open doors for others the same way they’re doing for me,” said Samella.

Michelle said they didn’t set standard qualifications. The program is open to black entrepreneurs who are just starting or looking to start a business in the hospitality field.

If you think you qualify, click here.