Year 6 of Entrepreneurial Law Clinic

We are off to another great year at the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law!

ELC was itself an entrepreneurial venture in that I developed with no money, space, or time off from my regular classroom teaching at the School of Law. But it was necessary because there is just no satisfactory way to teach law students how to serve entrepreneurs without having them rolling up their sleeves and doing it (more on this in future posts).

What we did have going for us back in 2005 (when I beta tested it) was a very supportive and vocal group of students who were already forming the student organization “Society for Small Business Development” (now the Business Law Association). Our first team consisted of J.D. law students John Brust, Larry Rozsnyai, and Tax LL.M. student Kathy Walter. Based on the success of the beta test, we launched in full mode in 2006. The key was Katie Meyer’s willingness to accept my offer of “if you get grant funding I can pay you to help me run it”. Katie had grant writing experience and we secured two critical grants from the Herbert B. Jones Foundation and the Coleman Foundation. She also helped me figure out administrative logistics and ran the day-to-day operations. Ron Howell at the Washington Research Foundation generously donated space. Alan Kirtley, then Director of the Clinical Law Program at the School of Law provided crucial advice and encouragement, as did Scott Schumacher, now Director of the Tax Law Program, and others. The Center for Technology Entrepreneurship at the Business School (now the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Foster School of Business) helped me realize my full vision by helping me recruit MBA students to work with law students on the teams.  Jennifer Burgess-Capoccia and the other SSBD students worked behind the scenes to rally support–and counter opposition from some quarters–for ELC.

You can read more about the pioneering structure of ELC and its use of supervising attorneys from the community on the ELC website.

New developments for this year are that we will provide legal due diligence for the W Fund, a new investment fund planned to support UW technology spin-offs and other early stage ventures through the “Valley of Death.” This is in addition to our other regular work for small enterprises, tech start-ups, social entrepreneurs and nonprofits, and other UW technology spin-offs.

About Sean O'Connor

Sean O’Connor is the Boeing International Professor at the University of Washington School of Law (Seattle). He is also Chair of the Center for Advanced Study and Research on Innovation Policy and Faculty Director of the Cannabis Law &B Policy Project. With a diverse background in music, technology, philosophy, history, business, and law, he specializes in legal issues and strategies for entrepreneurship and the commercialization of innovation in biotechnology, information technology, and new media/digital arts.
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