Marquette University Law School will provide free legal services to startups and entrepreneurs beginning next spring through a new Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic.
The benefits of the new program are at least twofold: While entrepreneurs strapped for resources will have access to legal counsel, the program will also give Marquette law students hands-on experience in business law under the direction of a licensed attorney and faculty member.
The clinic, supported by donations to the law school’s annual fund, will largely be manned by students, who will collaborate with volunteer working attorneys and who will receive curricular credit for their participation.
Students involved will advise clients over a series of months, or longer, on legal matters including business-entity selection and formation, corporate governance, funding, business contracts, employment, business licenses and permits, commercial leases, and basic intellectual property concerns.
The clinic will open during spring semester 2015 but will operate in a limited capacity until fall 2015. Leading its launch is Nathan Hammons, who will serve as director and a full-time clinical faculty member as he oversees and mentors clinical law students.
Hammons previously was an adjunct professor at the law school while running a private law practice in Milwaukee. He is experienced in aiding early-stage entrepreneurs and small businesses, particularly tech startups, located in southeastern Wisconsin and has made presentations on legal issues relevant to startups to the Milwaukee Bar Association, among other organizations.
“I’m honored to be a part of the Marquette community and excited to help launch the clinic,” Hammons said in a statement. “The clinic will help train students to become top-notch business attorneys while giving them yet another outlet to answer the university’s call to serve others and enhance our community.”
The clinic also represents one arm of Marquette’s push to be more intentional in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across campus, a push propelled by university president Michael Lovell, Ph.D.
“Entrepreneurs always need more time to spend on their ideas and innovations, which is exactly what the law school’s new Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic will allow them to do,” Lovell said in a statement. “In return, our students will learn how to have a direct impact on the next wave of startups. Together, we’ll advance the region’s reputation as a place where great concepts thrive.”
Clinic clients will be selected according to several criteria, such as access to legal services, educational fit, and ability to impact the community.
Clients seeking counsel for patents will be referred to local attorneys. The clinic also will not offer litigation or fulfill other needs beyond the range of standard legal services for new businesses.