Real World Experience Brought to the Classroom
The Mizzou Law’s Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic is an experiential learning opportunity offered as an elective for 3Ls and second semester 2Ls. The course is designed to give students live, hands-on experience counseling clients on a wide range of issues and areas of law that arise out of helping entrepreneurs to start and operate their businesses.
Clients include both for-profit and nonprofit ventures from a wide variety of industries/fields, and come from a variety of sources, ranging from campus and community referrals to online applications. All clients are prescreened to ensure that (1) they share the ideals embodied in the teaching and learning experience at the core of the clinic, and (2) they are the best match for the limited amount of pro bono legal services that the clinic can offer.
Students participating in the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic are challenged to develop their client counseling skills by first understanding their own styles and brands, and thereafter exploring and embracing the clients’ passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. ELC students are offered a rare opportunity to work with collaborating attorneys practicing in related fields (e.g., corporate, transactional, intellectual property, computer, employment, regulatory law, etc.). They also have the opportunity to share what they learn by collaborating with area entrepreneurial leaders in developing written materials and making presentations for entrepreneurs. The clinic is a unique opportunity for students to transition their growing substantive knowledge to practical lawyering experience typically available to only associates at law firms.
ELC Course Components
Once each week, all ELC students meet for a 75-minute class. The classes survey the legal and business issues encountered by entrepreneurs and develop the practical skills necessary to effectively represent them, including:
- Client Interviewing & Counseling
- Tax, Capitalization, Securities
- Entity Planning & Formation
- Corporate Governance
- Contract Drafting
- Employment Issues
- Intellectual Property
- Risk Management
- Legislative & Regulatory
- Practical Skills for Working with Innovators
Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic students are paired in teams of two with selection based on combining strengths from various substantive legal backgrounds. Each team is responsible for two or three client matters, depending on complexity and needs of each client. The teams are tasked with providing frontline counseling of clients, assessment of client needs, and development and then execution of client work plans. Students are expected to maximize the strengths of their teammates as one of the keys to becoming an effective lawyer and colleague. Their work is supervised and reviewed by the clinic director and other collaborating attorneys in order to ensure delivery of a professional work product.
At least once per week, each team of students meets with the clinic director to review progress on client matters. The meetings offer the director the opportunity to monitor the progress of client work, while also providing insights into improving productivity, solving difficult client issues and ensuring the students have the support needed to succeed. These meetings also provide opportunities to evaluate all aspects of the ELC, to reflect upon what is being learned and to invite students to share in the success of the clinic’s progression.
Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic students have numerous opportunities to collaborate with ELC partners, supporters and the community. These include in-person collaborations with practicing attorneys, and may include presentations at workshops, development of materials to educate entrepreneurs and interaction with leaders in the entrepreneurial community.
Currently, Business Organizations is a prerequisite, and Professional Responsibility is required to be completed or taken contemporaneously with participation in the ELC. Other courses that may be helpful but are not required include various intellectual property, tax, client counseling, employment, regulatory and transactional law classes.
Enrolling into the Clinic
Students enroll in clinical offerings such as the ELC through an advance registration application process. Please look for registration instructions by email. Typical requirements in the application process include a written statement of interest, a current transcript and resume, affirmation of the tenets of the clinic and an in-person interview with the clinic director.