Many startups know one thing well – their idea and why they want to start a business. What they don’t always know is the legal process and details it takes to get there.
Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law is now accepting applications for their Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic. The clinic, run Professor Lee Thomason, provides third-year law students with valuable hands-on experience, while helping startup with legal tasks, for free.
During the two law-school semesters at OSU that start in August and January, twelve local startups pair with third-year law students who help them complete a variety of the legal task necessary to start a business. Thomason says their projects fall under four main areas – governance, innovation protection, agreements and capital. Governance tasks help establish the business through items like operating agreements. The students will also help the businesses take the necessary steps to protect their innovations. From there, the clinic can help with agreements and licenses for other organizations with which the startup is affiliated. Finally, completing the first three types of tasks opens the door for capital.
Tasks are driven by the clients needs, starting with what is most urgent for where they are in the startup process. For some business, the process hasn’t quite started. The students also perform legal research to ensure that a company is operational with their current plan.
The clinic looks for the Goldilocks of startups – the owners have a plan and not just an idea, but aren’t too developed. A client needs to be ready to launch. Thomason hand-picks the startups that participate in the clinic. He says they ideally look for owners in their first year of operation with a preference toward those that have an innovation or a new business model that will attract entrepreneurial capital investment.
Thomason finds that pitch competitions and incubator finalists typically produce the level of startup that fits in the clinic. Past participants have come from places like TechColumbus and the Fisher College of Business’s 10Xelerator program.
The clinic has noticed a few trends among startups. Several are revisiting social networks that are limited in some way. The networks may join people with similar interests or in the same general location. Overall, they try to balance a mixture of mobile apps, internet-based businesses and companies with hard products.
The Professor says they will take anyone that they think they can help. The only exceptions being non-profits or single-store location types of businesses. They also don’t offer tax advice.
Thomason is currently looking for startups for the clinic starting in August. Applications are accepted through Monday, August 19th.
For more information, contact the OSU law clinic at (614) 292-6821 or visit moritzlaw.osu.edu/clinic/eblc.