In 2019, the Berkeley City Council voted to devote $100,000 to support worker cooperative development programs and services in the city. As part of the initiative, the Sustainable Economies Law Center is able to offer legal support to worker cooperative startups and worker ownership transitions of existing businesses based in the City of Berkeley.
For worker cooperative startups, the Law Center can provide legal services that include choice of entity, articles of incorporation/organization, drafting and updating bylaws and other internal operating documents, compliance with California regulatory laws, etc.
For worker ownership transitions of existing businesses that will convert into worker cooperatives, the Law Center is available to represent either the business itself or a worker buyout group (which may include an owner who intends to become a worker-owner). Legal services may include advice on:
- structuring the deal,
- negotiating the deal price and terms,
- drafting legal documents which often include (among others) a purchase and sale agreement or stock redemption agreement, entity formation documents, and membership certificates, and
- post-transaction cooperative governance and management.
The City of Berkeley’s cooperative development initiative will subsidize up to 7 or 13 hours of legal fees for cooperative startups and conversions, respectively. If you need additional legal services beyond what is covered by the City’s subsidy, the Law Center provides legal advice using a needs-based sliding-scale fee. If you are interested in discussing whether your business may be eligible for legal services and funding, please RSVP to a Legal Cafe and note your interest in the Berkeley cooperative program on the intake form.