Grunin Center Releases Case Study—Legal Services in the Launch of the MicroBuild Fund

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New York City, NY. (February 25, 2021) – The Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU School of Law is delighted to announce the expansion of its case study library through the release of a follow-on impact investing case study: Legal Services in the Launch of the MicroBuild Fund. This case study explores the unique challenges that arose in effectively securing legal services to support the structuring and launch of the MicroBuild Fund––a blended finance facility that was sponsored by Habitat for Humanity International (Habitat) to attract funding into housing microfinance on a global scale.

As a global nonprofit housing organization entering into significant impact investing for the first time, Habitat had to balance the critical need for expert, specialized legal advice, and the cost of sponsoring the MicroBuild Fund. In this regard, securing legal services pro bono was essential to the launch and success of the Fund, Habitat lawyers said.

Told from the point of view of deal counsel to Habitat, Carl Valenstein, the case study begins on the day Carl is honored with his law firm’s annual public service award––the first time in the firm’s history that the award is conferred in recognition of a transactional pro bono matter. He reflects on the various challenges that arose in the representation, which spanned over three years, as well as the myriad ways in which the deal was a valuable opportunity for his immediate team and his law firm.

“I hope that this case study empowers lawyers in other laws firms to take on meaningful pro bono projects in the impact investment space. The transactions are increasing in complexity and there is a corresponding need for sophisticated transactional legal counsel to be involved,” said Carl Valenstein regarding his involvement.

In addition to exploring applicable eligibility standards for the delivery of legal services on a pro bono basis, the case study explores alternative fee arrangements and highlights the post-eligibility assessment challenges that arise in the course of delivering legal services for a complex cross-border transaction. The case study also discusses the benefits that transactional lawyers can obtain from developing an active pro bono practice. The case study can be accessed on the Grunin Center’s learning platform here.

This case study, which was funded with support from the Omidyar Network,  is one of a series of case studies under development about the MicroBuild Fund. This multi-disciplinary case study series will examine the MicroBuild Fund throughout its life—from the launch of the MicroBuild Fund to its eventual wind-up.

“We are extremely proud to be an equity investor in the Microbuild Fund and have been pleased to see the tremendous impact it has had in the communities it serves. It’s longevity has offered an excellent opportunity to examine and extend lessons learned to the broader impact investing and legal communities,” said Omidyar Network’s Peter Rabley. “We believe the Grunin Center has done outstanding work preparing a unique case study and learning materials for the broader legal community around its highly innovative funding model and legal instrument. We are excited for it to be shared broadly so others can learn from it and continue to build on its success.”

The Grunin Center’s learning platform aims to help prepare a new generation of talented, committed, and globally oriented impact professionals by giving educators access to a range of teaching tools to support their efforts to embed themes of social entrepreneurship and impact investing into their course curricula.