Devin: What is your superpower?
Elizabeth: My superpower. I think I have the ability to spark. Interests, movements, and to really, really get people going.
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“To be honest, if [social justice] wasn’t part of my work, I would have no interest in securities,” Elizabeth Carter says, explaining how she sees the law as a tool to help underserved communities, especially women, Black and Afro-Latinx communities.
“I’m a business capital attorney who represents investment companies, small businesses, even nonprofits and co-ops, with the legal strategy and compliance of raising capital from investors,” she says.
Elizabeth worked in community development and sees crowdfunding as a tool incorporating community-building principles.
She says her firm, Elizabeth Carter, Esq., LLC, helps people with essential securities compliance, including articles of incorporation, operating agreement, investment contracts and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission or state regulators. She is now working to transition the firm to a co-op structure.
Her focus on social justice comes from the problems she sees. “The issue is super stark. I mean, the statistics show that black women, despite being the most educated as in proportion to most with degrees, secondary degrees, leading—most likely lead—households, most likely to become entrepreneurs, are still the least likely to be funded.” She’s out to change that.
Not only do underserved entrepreneurs face challenges accessing capital, Elizabeth says, they also have difficulty getting legal representation and other professional support.
In this context, she says, “We have to talk about race.”
She says that systemic racism is intentional. “We have to be intentional to reverse it.”
For instance, she says that Black and Latinx communities are underinvested precisely because of who lives there. Too often, funding only becomes available for projects in these communities when white developers step in. She wants to see that funding available to developers, even the up-and-coming, in the community.
Wanting to address these problems, Elizabeth sees herself and her team as more than lawyers. “Let’s be social equity lawyers, right? Let’s be community lawyers. Let’s focus beyond just the transactional work.”
The progress she sees motivates her to keep going. “When you see a founder raise capital for their business that then brings back resources and other products and goods to real communities, that’s what really gets me going.”
She sees crowdfunding as a primary tool—not a stand-alone solution—to these problems. Crowdfunding provides a model for an entrepreneur who represents the community they serve to raise capital from both the local community and the wider community. In this way, everyone in the local community benefits from the success. People outside the community who invest can earn a return on funds they commit to projects and businesses there.
Elizabeth will speak at SuperCrowd22 on September 15-16. She will deliver a keynote address during the closing session of the conference. Don’t miss it! Readers register for half price with the code superpowers4good! Paid subscribers register for free. Email to ask me how.
Elizabeth uses her ability to spark movements, her superpower, to both grow her business and drive the change she wants to see in the world.
How to Develop Sparking Movements As a Superpower
Elizabeth is sparking movements in social justice by helping entrepreneurs, investment companies, nonprofits and co-ops. She’s also building a practice devoted to empowering women in her community.
“The other part of the mission of the firm is to increase the diversity within securities law—crowdfunding right—from the legal perspective,” she says. “Black women represent about 2 percent in the legal field in general, 4 percent Black people as a whole.” She describes representation within the field of securities law as “dismal.”
“Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs,” Elizabeth says. “They’re going to need support. Who’s there to support them in a way that they can feel comfortable in the way that they understand that they will have confidence that the practitioner understands their challenges? That is where we come in.”
Building on her goal to expand representation of Black women practicing law, she created a clerkship program to train Black women law students.”
“When I was in law school, I had no interest in securities. I just thought of Wall Street and big corporations. I said that has nothing to do with our community or anything,” Elizabeth says. “But I was wrong. It was probably because crowdfunding was still relatively new when I was in law school, and I didn’t know anything about it. Looking back, I wish someone would have told me, you know, this is something you can use for good for a superpower.”
“I’m very proud of the programming we’re building because I see the changes in these young women. For instance, one of them had actually been licensed since 2003 and said, “I didn’t feel the law was for me until I started working with you because you do it so differently.”
Elizabeth has a bit of advice for those who would like to develop her superpower. “Don’t think of money first. Think of if you can do anything in the world and money was not an issue, what would you do?”
By following Elizabeth’s example and advice, you can develop your ability to spark movements into a superpower that will help you do more good in the world.