Law School’s Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic ‘makes dreams come true’

Despite Philadelphia’s long and storied history of entrepreneurship—a group of immigrant entrepreneurs started a country here a couple hundred years ago—it remains very difficult to start and operate a small business in the city, according to Practice Professor of Law Praveen Kosuri, director of the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic (ELC) at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. 

City sidewalk with storefronts empty, for rent signs on awning.

Philadelphia remains the poorest large city in the U.S., and many small businesses operate on tight margins, lacking the resources to consult attorneys for their legal needs. Together, Kosuri, who is also the associate dean for Clinical Education, and ELC clinical supervisor and lecturer Michael Murphy teach the oldest transactional clinic in the country to help address these problems, supervising students who provide holistic advice to clients hoping to make a positive social impact through business. Students work with entrepreneurs at all phases of the business cycle, from pre-formation to scaling to dissolution, turning visions into reality.

“This is going to sound cliché, but the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic makes dreams come true,” says ELC alum Michael Machado. That’s the simplest and most honest way to describe what the clinic does for clients.” 

The clinic chooses clients that fit into one of three “buckets,” according to Kosuri. Each represents a different social impact strategy, but all are tied together by the end goal of bettering society.

The first bucket is comprised of low-to-moderate-income entrepreneurs from underserved populations or economically distressed communities.

Projects in the second bucket involve community revitalization.

In the third bucket are “triple-bottom-line businesses” or “social ventures,” for-profit businesses also concerned with societal benefits, such as developing clean energy or more accessible healthcare solutions. The impact of these businesses is often national or global.

By assisting clients with a wide range of legal issues, including founders’ agreements, entity formation, employment, form contracts, and website terms of use, students gain substantial and intense practical experience as transactional attorneys.

Read more at Penn Law News.