Fenwick’s lawyers are passionate about representing ambitious entrepreneurs, and throughout our history we have had the privilege of working with some of the technology sector’s most legendary founders as they grew their companies from start-ups to global leaders.
We are equally inspired by the small-business-owner clients whom we represent on a pro bono basis, including the hard-working entrepreneurs we have met through Start Small Think Big. The organization is a nonprofit that helps small businesses with high potential by connecting their founders to the organization’s network of volunteer professionals who provide free legal, finance, and marketing services. Given that Fenwick has placed the highest priority on giving back to our communities and serving those who are less fortunate, the firm is proud to support Start Small Think Big—one of dozens of organizations with which we partner through our contribution programs—and Fenwick lawyers coast to coast have enthusiastically signed on to help guide and counsel entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses.
To spotlight Start Small Think Big clients, we reached out to Tami Treadwell of Harlem Seafood Soul and Shaun Best of JumpShots Over GunShots, two incredible Harlem-based entrepreneurs, about their stories and the legal support that they’ve received.
Tami Treadwell, better known as Chef Tami, is the chef and owner of Harlem Seafood Soul, a staple food truck in Harlem since 2016. As noted on her website, Chef Tami takes immense pride “in both her passed-down recipes and her roots in the NYC neighborhood where she was born and raised.” Chef Tami is known for her garlic butter shrimp and creamy grits, fried mac and cheese bites, fish tacos, and seafood po’boys—“all of which she serves to her beloved Harlem community with great pride.”
Chef Tami was in negotiations to become a tenant at the new Brooklyn, New York–based Williamsburg Market, a highly curated food hall and market featuring up-and-coming chefs changing the face of food, when she realized that she needed more professional support. Fenwick was introduced to Chef Tami via Start Small Think Big.
“In the first initial conversation I had with [Fenwick corporate associate] Lauren Christine Gonzalez,” said Chef Tami, “her words to me were, ‘From this point forward, we will be taking over all negotiations; we have your back. I’m going to bring in my partner and colleague, and we are going to make sure you are well protected.’” Chef Tami continued: “[A]nd now, I can only tell you that after having really smart people, Lauren and [Fenwick corporate partner] Morgan Sawchuk, going over every single detail, even engaging my accountant—they have projections and reports. It is like Harlem Seafood Soul is now a real business.”
“She has this amazingly successful food truck and catering business and a lot of vitality, and we got to step in and partner with her right as she was figuring out what’s next for her and Harlem Seafood Soul,” Sawchuk said. “To help her with the Williamsburg negotiations, we had to really understand what Harlem Seafood Soul is and where Chef Tami wants to go. It’s such an honor to have someone who has worked so hard to build something so wonderful and personal trust us with that kind of advice.”
After continuing her business through the pandemic, Chef Tami was featured on the Netflix series Street Food: USA, which catapulted her to fame overnight. The Fenwick team helped Chef Tami navigate trademark issues the week before the show was released. Gabrielle Simon, a Fenwick intellectual property associate based in New York, worked with Chef Tami to identify the trademark needs and opportunities of the business so that Chef Tami could protect the business’s name and logo. Simon advised her on the ways that a person can accrue trademark rights in the United States and the benefits of doing so. “The biggest role I played was giving Chef Tami some peace of mind about her existing trademark rights before the show was released and helping make a plan to protect her trademarks for the future,” Simon noted.
Chef Tami sees Harlem Seafood Soul making a name for itself in all the boroughs of New York and then going national, and she already has had offers for a first franchise.
“Harlem is my home and where my heart is, but Harlem Seafood Soul resonates with everyone. It’s love—and I want as many people [as possible] in this world to experience that,” she said.
Harlem native Shaun Best started nonprofit JumpShots Over GunShots nine years ago after seeking a low-cost or free basketball program for his seven-year-old son. Most of the programs offered nearby were cost-prohibitive for most area families.
Best began playing basketball with his son informally, finding space at nearby gyms and community centers when they were available. Through word of mouth among his son’s friends and classmates and their parents, a group of young players formed—and Best started JumpShots Over GunShots. In the summertime, the basketball program includes up to 40 preteen youth.
The mission of JumpShots Over GunShots is “empowering disadvantaged youth with life skills through basketball to evade prison, gangs and gun violence.” Best, who was already a youth mentor at a nearby juvenile center, took some of the ideas from that job and incorporated them into JumpShots Over GunShots, including therapeutic crisis intervention and methods to help youth deescalate situations. Best has helped those in the program get jobs and hone their skills off the court and, most importantly, avoid a life of violence and gun violence.
“Fenwick called me, and ever since then, everything I have needed, they have been just a phone call away. I have shared ideas with them, and they can execute,” said Best.
“Shaun—like most of our small-business start-up clients—was supercharged with ambition and creative ideas, including an array of potential trademarks and logos,” said intellectual property of counsel R.J. Heher. “It was fun and rewarding to help him hone in his business plans, explain the role trademarks could play, and help him narrow his trademark alternatives to those he could protect.” The firm first worked on protecting the organization’s logo via registering it. The trademark application was approved, giving Best peace of mind as he seeks to expand the organization’s reach by applying for grants and fundraising.
“The most rewarding thing was a parent telling me, ‘My son didn’t have any friends until he joined the program,’” said Best. “That is bigger than winning any championship.”
Fenwick’s pro bono practice is dedicated to ensuring that disadvantaged people and communities have representation and access to justice. Every year, our lawyers strive to donate three percent of their total billable hours to pro bono legal services for a broad range of clients and causes. The firm is proud to have received the 2022 National Public Service Award from the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section.