Small Business Clinic
The Small Business Clinic provides legal services to local small businesses and microenterprises. The clients are generally businesses that would not have access to legal services due to limited resources. The businesses are usually owned by one or two individuals and have anywhere from zero to five employees. Students work on transactional legal matters that are typical in the start-up phase of a business. For example, students may assist the owners in determining whether they should operate as a sole proprietor, general partnership, limited liability company or corporation and provide appropriate documentation based on that decision (e.g., operating agreement, partnership agreement, or shareholder agreement). Clients also often have various employment issues including classifying individuals as employees or independent contractors, preparing an employee manual, and/or drafting an employment application. Students perform preliminary trademark availability searches, advise as to copyright protection for client work product, and draft non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. Students also assist in drafting a variety of contracts for the sale of goods and services. Additionally, students often perform regulatory analysis to determine if there are any licensing and/or permitting requirements for the client’s business.
The goal of the clinic is to expose students to the methodology and mindset of business lawyering. Law students work with the entrepreneurs to identify the legal issues new businesses confront. They also develop important skills, including the ability to pinpoint key issues in an interview with a client. The clinic is part of a national trend to develop transactional educational opportunities to complement the traditional litigation-focused clinics that have long dominated clinical legal education. Students selected usually demonstrate a sincere desire to pursue a career in representing businesses and/or students who have an entrepreneurial spirit. Students interested in more detail on the issues faced by entrepreneurs, and therefore the issues dealt with in the Clinic, could read either of the following law review articles. “Starting from Scratch: A Lawyer’s Guide to Representing a Start-up Company,” 56 Ark. L. Rev. 773 (2004); “Braving the Waters: A Guide for Tennessee’s Aspiring Entrepreneurs,” 8 Transactions: Tenn. J. Bus. L. 243 (Spring 2007).
The course will consist of two full days of orientation (prior to the first day of the semester), weekly seminar classroom meetings, weekly one-on-one meetings with the professor, meetings with clients (sometimes in the evenings) and participation in walk-in legal assistance. Part-time students are welcome to apply for the clinic and have successfully participated in the past. However, part-time students need to be aware that there will be several times when they will need to make themselves available during the day for clinic activities (orientation, initial client interviews (at least three, 3-hour blocks), final client interviews (at least three, 2-hour blocks), weekly one-hour meetings, walk-in legal assistance, additional client meetings, and additional technology training). The professor will work with part-time students who are employed full time to try and schedule some of these sessions in the evening, but there will be several instances where the clinician will need to be available during day-time hours.
In an effort to operate the clinic as close to an actual law firm as possible, students are required to maintain client billing records through use of the clinic’s time/document management software. Client work will require a minimum of eighteen hours of work per week and other course commitments will require an additional four to five hours per week.
Prerequisites: The clinic is open to students who have successfully completed 28 hours of law studies. Business Organizations is the only prerequisite for the clinic, although other business courses are highly recommended.
Semesters Offered: Fall and Spring
Credits: 6-credits which includes Field Placement (4 credits) and Seminar (2 credits). Satisfies 6 experiential learning credits.
Spots available each semester: 8
Grading: Letter Grade
Application: Applications will be accepted in March, 2016 for clinic openings in the 2016 2017 Academic Year.
Application DEADLINE Date: March 2, 2016
Application Requirements: Resume, unofficial transcript, and Small Business Clinic application.
Restricted Withdrawal: This clinic is considered a Restricted Withdrawal Course. A student who withdraws from this clinic course 30 days prior to the start of the semester shall receive a “W” on their transcript.
To learn more, contact Marie Fletcher, Clinical Programs Administrator, at Tel.: 413-782-1469 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.