UNL’s Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic opens, gives advice to startups
Nebraska’s start-up businesses are brimming with unique ideas, brilliant entrepreneurs and hard workers. But there’s one thing missing.
Brett Stohs, director of the new Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic at the University of Nebraska College of Law, said many entrepreneurs lack important legal resources. With the help of this new clinic, entrepreneurs can receive this access at no cost.
“The work we’ll be doing has to do with what entrepreneurs are seeking – how to operate from a legal perspective, protecting their intellectual property, negotiating a real estate lease or trying to obtain financing,” Stohs said. “These are examples of situations we expect clients may need assistance with.”
Stohs will lead a class of eight senior-level law students who will get a unique opportunity to work with real-world clients. He stressed the importance of this, saying real-life situations can get a lot messier than textbooks or simulations can illustrate.
Along with extensive on-the-job training, students will learn to network, Stohs said.
“The experience for them includes not just the client work, but also a seminar with a very front-loaded boot camp to give them as much info on the resources they have at their disposal,” he said. “And also to be exposed to other members of the entrepreneurship ecosystem here to they can make meaningful connections while they’re a part of the clinic.”
Students officially started working on Jan. 9. Stohs said while the program is still new, he’s seen excitement throughout the state in both private practices and governmental law.
Specifically, the program has been working with university partners such as the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, NUtech Ventures, the College of Business Administration and the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, among others. Outside of the university, students are working with Invest Nebraska Corp.
“We’re excited to work with other groups within the university that are already focused on different pieces in the puzzle,” Stohs said. “We’re also excited to work with private attorneys and firms throughout the state as well. Many attorneys recognize the potential of this clinic to provide meaningful service to this underserved group, and to help law students as well.”
In order for startups to sustain long-term success, Stohs outlined a few problems and solutions that entrepreneurs may run into. Most importantly, Stohs said entrepreneurs should think about legal issues early on in the process.
“I think just like in any private practice setting, it’s our job to show the clients what we can do,” Stohs said. “Move them from where they think they need to go to where we think they need to go, from a legal perspective.”
Stohs is excited to get the ball rolling on this clinic. Along with students, Stohs said he’ll constantly be learning and engaging with clients.
“It’s something that’s very exciting for us,” Stohs said. “I think we have a real opportunity to make a meaningful difference for the state.”