New Clinic Partnership Supports Underserved Entrepreneurs
USF School of Law’s Entrepreneurial Ventures Legal Services Project (EVLS) has launched a partnership with Centro Community Partners to provide legal advice and support to underserved Bay Area entrepreneurs.
Several of Centro’s advanced entrepreneurship training program participants from San Francisco and the East Bay will be matched with USF law students and supervising faculty. The clients will receive pro bono legal services to help them create businesses with a solid legal foundation.
“Joining forces with Centro is a perfect fit for both USF and EVLS because our missions are so aligned,” said Professor Robert Talbot, director of EVLS and the four clinics that comprise it. “Centro’s clients, who are primarily women and minorities, are creating businesses with a social mission, and we are constantly strive to provide our law students with unique hands-on learning opportunities while making a positive impact in our communities.”
Centro’s entrepreneurship trainer and program manager Daniel Healy said finding affordable legal support is a big challenge for clients. “USF’s pro bono legal support will help our clients understand and meet the legal requirements they need to launch and run their businesses, and understand what they can do to reduce the legal risks facing their businesses.”
Gretchen Pfeffer, who joined Centro’s advanced entrepreneurship training program earlier this year, decided to follow her passion for dogs and is creating a natural dog treat business with the goal of donating a percentage of her profits to local animal shelters. USF students Daniel Armstrong 3L, Lindsay Hill 2L, and Carmen Martinez Rodriguez 2L, worked with Pfeffer this semester on trademark research and registration, business formation, and permitting, licensing, and general business issues.
“Each student answered specific questions I had about forming a small business. But more importantly, each one told me things I had never even heard of before,” Pfeffer said. “I can’t tell you how many things they’ve taught me that could have been a potential future business killer for me.”
Hill is interested in working with women entrepreneurs and innovators focused on social justice initiatives, so her work with EVLS and clients like Pfeffer “couldn’t be a better fit” for her career goals. She loves “the legal facets of this work, but I am especially inspired by the creative brainstorming and business aspects of working with entrepreneurs.”
“EVLS provided the institutional support I needed to learn and ask questions, as well as the freedom and opportunity to work one-on-one with clients,” Hill said. “As a law student, this was such an empowering and unusual experience.”