“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

 

The Community Business Clinic is Northeastern’s primary transactional law clinic. We offer students real-world experience in providing free, business-related legal services to startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially those in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The clinic’s work aims to support community-led growth.

Supervised by Professor Jared Nicholson, students help clients with a wide range of business-related needs, including:

  • Incorporation and choice of entity (corporation, limited liability company, etc.)
  • Contract negotiation, drafting and review (customer and vendor contracts, waivers, etc.)
  • Employment law
  • Licenses, permits, zoning
  • Intellectual property counseling
  • Commercial leases
  • Financing


FOR STUDENTS 

The clinic offers students a unique opportunity to develop lawyering skills through the real-world experience of helping community clients achieve their transactional goals. Students, prepared and supported by an intensive seminar and close faculty supervision, assume the role of lawyers for their clients and their clients’ community businesses. Students interview and counsel clients, negotiate agreements, draft and review documents, represent clients on regulatory matters, manage relevant relationships and advise clients on the many other, often-complex legal issues that entrepreneurs and small businesses face.

Enrollment takes place through the course registration process. Corporations is a prerequisite.

FOR POTENTIAL CLIENTS

  • The Community Business Clinic welcomes potential clients to apply for representation by completing this online application.
  • We strive to provide accessible services so if you are unable to complete the online application please feel free to email Jared Nicholson at ja.nicholson@northeastern.edu or call (617) 373-3939. 
  • We can only serve a limited number of clients based on our capacity and timing. We are currently accepting applications for representation to begin in November 2019. Our representation focuses on clients who could not otherwise afford a private attorney. We also evaluate the potential benefit to the communities we serve. A client must sign an engagement letter before we can begin any legal work.
  • Our legal services are free. Clients are responsible for any outside costs associated with the clinic’s legal work such as government application or filing fees.
  • We represent clients on specific matters. We can also present to groups on common legal issues for small businesses. 

REPRESENTATIVE CLIENTS

  • 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
  • A cleaning business

RESOURCES

Download the Community Business Clinic's Resource Guide

HISTORY

This clinic was founded 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 was part of a competitive, national program designed to enhance regional economic development tools that expand opportunity and create jobs. Related research conducted by Professor Dyal-Chand and Professor Rowan, senior advisor, has been used to develop a national model of clinical legal assistance in support of sustainable business creation and technology commercialization among underserved entrepreneurs.

NEWS COVERAGE

CONTACT

Professor Jared Nicholson
Director, Community Business Clinic
ja.nicholson@northeastern.edu
(617) 373-3939