Inc. Magazine’s Gabrielle Bienasz sits down with Caldwell’s Managing Member, Keegan Caldwell, to discuss the firm’s burgeoning social commitment initiative aimed at helping incarcerated entrepreneurs. In particular, the magazine spotlights Caldwell’s latest pro-bono case, which aims to help an incarcerated entrepreneur patent and monetize his novel medical device invention, along with the firm’s motivation for taking on this project.

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Inc. Excerpt:

Pro Bono Patent Work

After his Boston law firm made the Inc. 5000, Keegan Caldwell started receiving requests from inmates for pro-bono patent work. One man’s story really stuck out. Caldwell, after a history of legal and personal challenges, went on to build one of America’s fastest-growing businesses–now with a nascent program that aims to help other budding entrepreneurs who are incarcerated.

Caldwell’s company aids clients’ efforts to develop and monetize patents, from licensing to manufacturing deals to their use as leverage with investors. The firm was ranked No. 349 on the Inc. 5000 in 2021, and the coverage in Inc. led prison inmates to write to ask about pro bono work. One in particular, Thomas Alston, felt special. “What I saw was someone who was an entrepreneur,” Caldwell says. “And we’re really good at helping entrepreneurs.” He decided to assist Alston through the long, expensive process of obtaining a patent and monetizing it–potentially worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in billable hours–entirely for free.

Invention for the Elderly

Alston had been in trouble before, in the early 1990s for assault with a deadly weapon and, later, two other drug-related charges. He says his involvement with drug distribution stemmed from money problems. With five kids, minimum-wage jobs weren’t covering his expenses. He was in and out of the drug trade until he was caught with roughly $400,000, he says, in 2011. Throughout this time, he was living in Sanford, North Carolina, close to his children and grandmother, who suffered from cancer. He would go to her house most days to sort and help her take her pills. He thought, wouldn’t it be useful if there were a device that could help him make sure she took them? “The idea stuck with me when I got incarcerated,” he says. When a friend in the prison gave him a copy of Inc., he read about Caldwell and reached out

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