Informationfor Attorneys

To expose students to a variety of skilled attorneys practicing in the entrepreneurship field, the Entrepreneurship Clinic offers an affiliate attorney program. Interested practicing attorneys, anywhere in the world, can volunteer (typically one to two hours per week) for a semester to help in supervising and mentoring a team of two student attorneys in their client work. Specifically, we envision the affiliate attorney being available each week (remotely is fine) for a portion of a meeting between the student attorneys and the clinic faculty supervisor for that team. The affiliate attorney should also be able to periodically assist the student attorneys via email or phone with issues that may arise during their client representation.

To apply to become an affiliate attorney, please send the following information to Laura Shiltz (lshiltz@umich.edu): (i) resume, and (ii) a short statement of your interest (can be in the body of your email) in helping the clinic, ability to make the requested time commitment, and your relevant expertise.

The Entrepreneurship Clinic launched in 2012 with the support of a generous donation from Michigan Law alumnus Sam Zell, ’66. The clinic provides free legal services to U-M student-led start-up ventures. The clinic runs on a semester schedule and includes approximately 16 law students each semester and a small number of returning “advanced” clinic students. The law students attend four hours of class each week, in which they learn and discuss both the practical lawyering skills and substantive legal knowledge associated with representing entrepreneurial ventures. The law students also spend 20-plus hours per week representing multiple clients. We also expect the law students to actively engage in the local and campus entrepreneurial community by attending events and offering educational workshops.

The clinic assists with entity selection and formation, financing, intellectual property counseling (including freedom to operate, provisional patent application preparation, trademark prosecution, and clearance), and other related transactional work.

The clinic focuses on representing ventures launched by student-led and other entrepreneurial ventures. Typical ventures include: mobile or web apps, information technology, medical devices, and clean tech. Most of our clients involve U-M engineering or business students (both undergraduate and graduate). Clients receive business support and mentoring from the Zell Lurie Institute at U-M’s Ross School of Business and U-M’s Center for Entrepreneurship. Many of the clients are residents of TechArb, U-M’s student startup accelerator that launched in 2008.

Clinic students typically have demonstrated a commitment to working with entrepreneurial ventures through summer associate positions at top law firms around the world, other startup or venture capital related work (some have launched their own startups in the past), or other Law School extracurricular activities such as the Entrepreneurship and Law Association, the Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review, ​and the Business Law Association.

Michigan court rules allow second-year law students to engage in the practice of law under the close supervision of experienced attorneys. Clinic student attorneys typically work in teams of two under the close supervision of one of the clinic faculty. Although they are closely supervised, the student attorneys take the lead in representing the clients, serve as the primary interface with them, and draft and propose all courses of action. The student attorneys meet with their supervising faculty member at least once a week for an hour.

Affiliate attorneys will assist in supervising and mentoring one team of clinic student attorneys. We expect affiliate attorneys to have the following roles:

  • participate (either personally or remotely) in a meeting (or a portion thereof) at a set time each week with the student team and the supervising faculty member;
  • be reasonably available to periodically communicate with clinic student attorneys via email or phone;
  • mentor student attorneys on the practice of law in representing entrepreneurial ventures;
  • advise clinic student attorneys on specific legal issues that arise in their client work.

We expect that affiliate attorneys would have access to confidential attorney-client privileged information and would be part of the legal team. It is up to each affiliate attorney, and/or his or her firm, whether they would have a direct engagement with the client and run a conflict check in advance.

We understand, first hand, the unpredictable and busy nature of your practices. We will work with our student attorneys to be respectful of and flexible with your time. We ask each Affiliate Attorney to commit to at least one hour per week of work with their assigned student attorneys. We will have a set meeting time each week with the student attorneys and the supervising faculty member, and ideally, the Affiliate Attorney would be able to participate in that meeting (phone or Skype is fine) for a few minutes. We would like the Affiliate Attorney to be up to speed on the client matter so that when specific questions arise, the Affiliate Attorney already has a solid understanding of the client matter. The Clinic faculty will typically serve as the first line of supervision for the Clinic student attorneys. We anticipate using Affiliate Attorneys mostly for questions involving their specific area of expertise or that involve a question of industry custom to which the Affiliate Attorney would be privy. Of course, we envision this relationship being flexible and each Affiliate Attorney and team of student attorneys will naturally develop their own unique relationship.

The following are some of the advantages to serving as an affiliate attorney:

  • work with enthusiastic, bright law students and their enthusiastic, bright clients;
  • access to top U-M law students seeking to work in the corporate and IP fields after graduation;
  • get the fulfillment of mentoring and helping a new generation of attorneys;
    potentially obtain pro bono credit depending on your state rules;
  • get involved with the Entrepreneurship Clinic, and perhaps participate more broadly as a guest speaker at the Law School, an adviser to the clinic faculty, a guest blogger on our website, etc.

The clinic runs on a semester schedule: a fall semester from September to December and a winter semester from January to early May. We ask that each affiliate attorney make a commitment for a full semester (absent extreme circumstances). Affiliate attorneys can serve multiple semesters if they wish, although we will probably try to rotate through a pool of interested affiliate attorneys so we can give everyone a break.