Community Business Clinic
“The community has a real need for attorneys in a business context, especially lawyers helping underserved people, and the law school has the need to give students the experience of working with businesses. The fact the clinic is able to meet both those needs in the same program is great.” — Paul Gehrke ’13
Not every law student wants to be a trial lawyer, at least not exclusively. As the school’s primary transactional law clinic, the Community Business Clinic offers students real-world experience in providing free, business-related legal services to startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially those in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Supervised by Professor Peter Sessa, students help clients with a wide range of business-related needs, including:
- choosing the best business entity for their goals (corporation, limited liability company, etc.)
- purchasing, vendor and other agreements
- employment law
- licenses, permits, zoning, leases
- intellectual property
- state and local regulatory issues
- legal issues related to financing including for micro lending programs, loans from family members, and other nontraditional funding sources
- and much more.
Students interview clients, negotiate agreements, draft and review documents, represent clients on permitting and other regulatory matters, and advise clients on the many other, often-complex legal issues that entrepreneurs and small businesses face.
Clients have included Haley House, which employs homeless individuals and formerly incarcerated people in a café; St. Francis House, which assists the homeless; Bootstrap Composting, a composting company; an urban dance studio; and a cleaning business.
If you are a small business or an entrepreneur seeking legal assistance, please contact Peter Sessa at 617-373-3939 for more information.
Download the Community Business Clinic's Resource Guide
This clinic is funded by a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Commerce, with the goal of developing a university center providing free legal services to low-income and other underserved entrepreneurs in the region. The grant is part of a competitive, national program designed to enhance regional economic development tools that will expand opportunity and create jobs. Related research conducted by Professor Dyal-Chand and Professor Jim Rowan, senior advisor, will be used to develop a national model of clinical legal assistance in support of sustainable business creation and technology commercialization among underserved entrepreneurs.