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Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise Introduction

U.S. legal entities traditionally have been formed either as for-profit organizations or as nonprofit organizations.  For-profit organizations are designed to pursue profits and shareholder wealth, while most nonprofit organizations are designed strictly for charitable pursuits and public benefit.  Since 2008, however, twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes authorizing hybrid legal entities—generally, special forms of corporations and limited liability companies[1] —that are designed to pursue both a for-profit business purpose and a beneficial humanitarian and/or environmental purpose.  These special hybrid legal entities have been authorized largely in response to the growth of for-profit “social enterprises:”[2]  organizations devoted to pursuing shareholder wealth  and serving a broader humanitarian and/or environmental need.[3]

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Social Enterprise Overview

The social enterprise materials contained in this section of the website are organized into three sections. 

The first section contains materials appropriate for a legal clinic or practicum on social enterprise.  Such a clinic or practicum could be conducted on a stand-alone basis or in conjunction with an entrepreneurship-focused legal clinic.

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The information appearing on the EshipLaw Site located at, including articles and other posted materials, and other resources to which links or citations are provided on the EshipLaw Site is being offered solely for educational purposes, and does not in any way substitute for advice and representation by a licensed attorney. Use of the EshipLaw Site does not create an attorney-client relationship with either the editors, creators or reviewers of the educational content presented on the EshipLaw Site.