Why a Portland Law Firm Became a Certified Oregon Benefit Company
“I’m excited to be part of the Oregon Benefit Company community. We are a group of businesses that believe business and community building should not be mutually exclusive. In fact, they should go hand-in-hand as companies can make a difference while making a profit. It’s based on triple bottom line (planet, people, and profits) and something I strive for each day in my business.
But how did I get to this place. Here’s the story:
I graduated law school in 2009 in the midst of a recession. After facing a variety of hardships (and bar exams), I became a lawyer in 2017. Finally, a lawyer after years of doing other things that included marketing and branding, real estate, nonprofit work, conflict resolution/mediation, and restaurant work.
Becoming a lawyer was not a whim but a dream since I was young. As a youth, I was always civically engaged with a belief in social change. This continued into law school when I did political reporting, policy research, and served as the President of Public Interest Law for 2 years.
My dedication to social justice and the law seemed to be coming together. Upon passing the bar, my choices seemed to come down to three things:
1) Find a public interest lawyer role that would pay my bills (including student loan payments),
2) Work for a business law firm whose purpose may not align with my own, or
3) Work in a stable but maybe not so engaging field (i.e. insurance defense).
After much thought and reflection, I realized that the only answer for me was to do something that allowed me to be true to myself as a lawyer reflecting my own values, and not someone else’s. This was a leap of faith and meant not just being creative but setting a business process and rules I believe in. It also meant doing “community business law” where I was hands-on, accessible, and focused about building relationships.
So I created my own firm, Rational Unicorn Legal Services LLC. It is a one-stop shop for small businesses and nonprofits. I formally became an Oregon Benefit Company focused around the triple bottom line and recently became a certified Oregon Benefit Company for Good through Benefit Corporations for Good. With help from Tom and Mary Anne, the company’s founders and owners, their assessment helped me lay out the roadmap for actualizing the values of Benefit Companies. Their input made the process simple. Upon becoming certified, they gave me in-depth feedback about my business. This included suggestions on future goals that could further community involvement and sustainability efforts.
Maybe being a benefit company is the right choice for you also. Like many of you, the model resonated strongly with me as a cause-driven company. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Benefit Corporations for Good to get the process started. They are a great resource. We would love to have you as part of this forward-thinking movement.”
- Michael Jonas
Rational Unicorn Legal Services, LLC
To learn about the 6 simple steps to becoming an Oregon Benefit Company, go here.