The Small Business Legal Clinic
(SBLC) is one of eight clinics that prepares students to be effective lawyers, and provides access to legal services for underserved populations, through a service-based educational program integrating theory with application, and practice skills with ethical values. Traditionally, in the development and advancement of skills education, law school clinics have focused on teaching litigation and alternative dispute resolution skills. The SBLC (a) compliments the existing clinical programs by focusing on transaction and other non-litigation skills, and (b) represents one strategy in meeting a stated objective of the College of Law of "implementing a broad skills curriculum in business and entrepreneurship law, including client counseling and drafting in a real-life setting."
Client work is done by students under the close supervision of a faculty member with substantial experience in private law practice. No litigation or contested proceedings are handled. The program is operated in the same way as in a corporate law firm: The student participant and a faculty supervisor meet together with the new client; both ask questions about the proposed venture or legal problem facing the client; both prepare notes of the meeting. Following the meeting, the student drafts a letter to the client summarizing the points discussed at the initial conference and estimating SBLC fees and official charges. The letter is then reviewed by the faculty supervisor and is sent to the client over the student's name with a copy to the supervisor. If the client elects to have the SBLC undertake one or more of the items outlined in the first letter, the student does all of the required research and drafting under faculty guidance and supervision. When the engagement is complete, the student prepares a statement for services and expenses and a letter transmitting it to the client. Once a week, all student participants and faculty supervisors meet as a group to review the accomplishments and challenges of the prior week and to discuss matters of common interest.