Using Public Legal Education to Support Local Businesses

Student Review of qLegal “Choosing a Corporate Structure” Workshop for Tree Shepherd

On 29 March 2022, four students from qLegal’s Public Legal Education (PLE) programme delivered a 90-minute online workshop for clients of Tree Shepherd, a London-based charity that supports small businesses’ owners. The workshop was entitled “Why Your Enterprise Needs to Think About a Corporate Structure.”

What is a PLE workshop?

A PLE workshop is a presentation where law students explain complex legal concepts to members of the public to educate them on a certain area of law. It does not constitute legal advice, as the issues are covered broadly not specifically. Delivering a PLE workshop is a wonderful opportunity for our LLM students because they learn how to explain legal concepts using accessible, commercially aware examples addressed to a specific audience.

Who is Tree Shepherd?

Tree Shepherd is a London-based charity established ten years ago to help local people to set up their own enterprises. In turn, these business owners give back to their community by creating successful local businesses and creating additional jobs for local people. Tree Shepherd supports a growing community of entrepreneurs in South-East London with their various business needs.

What did this workshop cover?

On this occasion, four qLegal PLE students: Marah Badran, Maryam Gasimova, Bunmi Awofisayo, and Hamda Hussein, delivered an interactive and informative 90 minutes long workshop, where they put forth various case studies with questions to ensure that the participants understood the legal concepts and information presented.

The students aimed to teach workshop participants why they needed to pick a corporate structure for their business, how to think about the different structures available to them and how to form each structure, including links to helpful UK government websites. More specifically, using worked examples and questions for the participants, the students:

  1. Explained that choosing the proper corporate structure for a business is important because it creates a legal framework for the business and indicates the rights, obligations, and liabilities of the enterprise and the owners. They set out some of the main factors that should be considered regarding each corporate structure to guide the participants how to select the most suitable one: the management structure, the ownership, the question of liability, the funding that goes into the enterprise, and the tax aspects.
  2. Focused on three common corporate structures in detail: Sole Trader, Private Company Limited by Shares, and Community Interest Company (CIC) and described the advantages and disadvantages of each of these corporate structures.
  3. Explained how to form a Sole Trader, a Private Company Limited by Shares, and a Community Interest Company, including picking a name, registering for tax purposes, filing the necessary forms and fees with the UK government, and preparing the required and recommended legal documents.

What are the next steps with qLegal and Tree Shepherd?

qLegal hopes to present additional, interactive PLE workshops to Tree Shepherd clients in the future. These workshops could cover topics such as choosing a corporate structure for your entity, preparing a shareholder’s agreement, protecting your business’s intellectual property, complying with data privacy laws, hiring others to work with your business and reviewing and negotiating contracts. qLegal also looks forward to working closely with Tree Shepherd and some of its clients in the autumn of 2022 to prepare a suite of written legal education materials on some of these same topics. These written materials will also be made available to the general public on qLegal’s website.

For more detailed information about the workshop’s content, please read the students’ handout on our website.

This article was written by Dhanyasri Talluri and Yuan Zhong, who are participating in qLegal as part of their Law Masters studies at Queen Mary, University of London.
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qLegal provides pro bono legal advice and legal education to start-ups and entrepreneurs on intellectual property, data protection, corporate and commercial law. See the qLegal website ( for more details and to book your appointment. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for regular updates on issues relevant to your business.



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