According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses make up 99.9% of all U.S. businesses. What’s more, Utah has been credited as the most pro-small business state in America, thanks to our state’s pro-business initiatives and support systems. Each month, the Salt Lake Chamber will highlight a small business in Utah to emphasize its importance in our economy and encourage local support.
On April 5, 2018, Noella Sudbury was working as Senior Policy Advisor to then Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. She, along with Salt Lake County’s Criminal Justice Advisory Council, decided to host an event called “Expungement Day.” The one-day event, made possible by collaborations with the state Departments of Workforce Services and Public Safety, Catholic Community Services of Utah and a group of volunteer lawyers, offered to help eligible Utahns expunge their criminal records.
“It was a turning point for me in my career,” Sudbury said. “People showed up from all over the state, people drove through the night to meet with a lawyer. I never appreciated until that moment how common criminal records were and how impactful it could be to empower these individuals to move on with their lives. It showed me that more needed to be done.”
About 1 in 4 Utahns have a criminal record of some sort; however, many of these records are old, resolved and eligible for expungement. Unfortunately, the process can be complicated and expensive. So, Sudbury founded Rasa Legal.
“I started Rasa back in February 2022 to help individuals determine their eligibility for expungement and make it affordable for people who are often left behind,” said Sudbury. “What we’re trying to do is serve a market of people who make too much to qualify for free legal aid but make too little to hire a traditional attorney.”
By using unique software to streamline expungement processes, Rasa is able to help those who need it most for less than half the price of other lawyers, charging only $500 for up to three records. A traditional attorney, on the other hand, could cost up to $3,000.
After working for the county and leading the successful campaign to pass the Clean Slate law, which automates the expungement process for more than 450,000 Utahns, Sudbury realized how much potential technology had to automate otherwise complicated processes and empower formerly incarcerated and charged individuals.
“Criminal justice reform actually has huge bipartisan support,” Sudbury explained. “Once someone has done everything they’re supposed to do, it is fairly well-proven that the best thing we can do to keep our economy strong and our communities better is to make sure they can move on with their lives.”
Now, as the founder of the highly successful small business Rasa Legal, Sudbury has had the chance to make a real difference in thousands of Utahns’ lives. Her service has not gone unnoticed, either; Sudbury was Utah Business Magazine’s 2019 Woman of the Year, received the 2022 Distinguished Service Award from the Utah State Bar and even made Inc.com’s 2023 top 200 female founders list. But her favorite part of having a small business? Working with her team and collaborating to find creative solutions to new problems.
“With the creativity and independence a small business gives you, we can experiment. We can try out so many different things that can improve our business, and it’s really fun to be able to do that,” Sudbury said.
Sudbury also enjoys being a part of the Salt Lake Chamber, which she explained has supported her from the beginning and allowed her to become connected with lawmakers who represent her needs.
“From the beginning, the Chamber has understood that helping people achieve their goals and improve their lives is important,” Sudbury said. “To be part of a chamber that embraces my goals as a small business, that’s deeply meaningful to me. They represent what I represent.”
Rasa’s mission is to make the process of clearing a criminal record simple and affordable for everyone. Rasa provides direct services to people with records and also partners with businesses to offer expungement as a benefit to their employees. They are also committed to being a second chance employer and believe working with people who have records helps them to design better products. Click here to support their small business.