No matter how starved for cash a university start-up might be, legal services should never be handled as a “do-it-yourself” bootstrap activity. At the same time, the $400-an-hour IP law firm is typically out of reach unless you’ve already managed to attract a significant level of investment. With patent research, incorporation, filings with the PTO and regulators, collaboration and license agreements, the need for legal help is acute, but so is the need to stay afloat financially – and the need to protect your start-up from lawsuits and patent challenges.
The ZEAL Entrepreneurship Clinic at the University of Michigan has come up with a way to give start-up companies a head start when it comes to legal expenses in a way that benefits the company as well as the law students involved and the TTO. The clinic was founded in 2011 in response to an influx of student entrepreneurs developing companies out of UM’s business, engineering, and medical schools. They needed quality legal advice for their start-ups that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and the law students needed practical experience. The result has been a very successful program that gives start-ups the help they need, students the experience they crave, and saves thousands of dollars the companies and TTO can use for building the fledgling businesses.
Technology Transfer Tactics has recruited the founding director and a co-professor of the University of Michigan Law School’s Entrepreneurship Clinic, Dana A. Thompson, to lead this case study webinar that will outline how the clinic works, is managed and funded, and how the projects are coordinated through the TTO and other departments:
Creating, Managing and Funding Student Legal Clinics for University Start-Ups
A Win-Win for Law School Students, University Entrepreneurs, and Your TTO
Here’s a brief look at the agenda:
- Introduction to ZEAL
- Criteria for eligible law students
- Criteria for start-ups and founders
- Legal services offered by the Clinic
- Benefits to start-ups, students and the TTO
- Administrative management of the Clinic
- How the clinic engages outside counsel for oversight and guidance
- Understanding the TTO’s role
- The limits of student-provided legal services
PLUS: Listen to the recorded Q&A portion of the program!
Your Expert Presenter:
Dana A. Thompson
Clinical Professor of Law
Founding Director and Co-Professor
University of Michigan Law School’s Entrepreneurship Clinic
At The ZEAL Entrepreneurship Clinic, Ms. Thompson represents University of Michigan student-led ventures. Prior to the Entrepreneurship Clinic, she taught in the Urban Communities Clinic, where she represented small businesses, start-up ventures, and community-based organizations. Prior to joining Michigan Law, Professor Thompson founded and taught Wayne State University Law School’s Small Business Enterprises and Nonprofit Corporations Clinic. She represents clients in corporate, nonprofit, and start-up company matters. She is a contributing author to Building Healthy Communities: A Guide to Community Economic Development for Advocates, Lawyers and Policymakers, published by the ABA’s Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law.