BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Attorneys from the WNY Law Center will provide free legal assistance for small business startups from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the University at Buffalo's Allen Hall.

Staff attorney Arthur Musarra said that includes helping prospective owners file as a limited liability company on the spot as long as they bring the $235 fee for New York state.

"It's not a difficult process, but it is an important step because it limits personal liability for people who are starting a business. It keeps their personal assets separate from their business assets and going through the process blindly is not recommended," Musarra said.

This is the third time the organization is partnering with Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes' office to host a small business legal clinic. Musarra said while anybody is invited, the focus is on helping minority- and women-owned businesses in some of the more impoverished parts of the majority leader's East Side district.

"We do it to try to help level the playing field for lower-income residents who want to start a business because that's one of the best ways we found to lift people out of poverty, is to be able to have their own business, something to call their own," he said.

The Business Council of New York State Executive Vice President Paul Zuber said lifting up MWBEs is a priority for his organization.

"Minority-owned businesses tend to hire from the communities which they live in, so it creates jobs for traditionally disadvantaged communities throughout New York State," Zuber said.

He said the council has seen an uptick in small business startups since the tail end of the COVID pandemic. But Zuber said there are things the state can do to make the environment more friendly, including creating better access to capital, supporting educational outreach to make the legal and regulatory components less intimidating and limiting extra costs once startups are off the ground.

"Workers compensation costs are through the roof in New York. We' have to fix the unemployment insurance issue in new York, which means every employer, when they hire somebody, their taxes are going up every single year because we depleted the unemployment fund during COVID and we failed to use the federal money to pay that back," he said.

Musarra said clients staff meet at the clinics do often reach out for more pro bono legal assistance.

"After they've come and met with us, we form their business, there's contracts, there's leases, all sorts of services like that that people need or they may not even know they need," he said.