The Small Business Legal Clinic (SBLC) was established to provide third-year students with real-life experience handling transactional legal problems and to provide assistance to business owners and entrepreneurs in Idaho. More specifically, the SBLC is designed to expose students to the following:
- Ethical issues involved in dual or multiple party representations.
- The value of a business plan in (a) establishing owner expectations, and (b) providing consistent communications to the attorney and other business advisors.
- The business formation process – including filing timelines and communication with clients.
- Client intake – preparation and documentation
- The formation documents and their function, with particular attention to the fundamental ownership documents (e.g. the shareholder agreement, the operating agreement, or the partnership agreement) that details owner rights and obligations.
- Intellectual property issues facing the new business, with exposure to trademark prosecution.
- The regulatory and contractual environment that impacts new and existing businesses.
- The value of a comprehensive legal “health” assessment to assist the new business in addressing contractual, regulatory, and other legal concerns.
Clients who are accepted by the SBLC are required to sign a formal engagement letter. The most common assignments involve the formation of an appropriate business entity, preparation and review of confidentiality and employment agreements, and review of commercial leases. We have recently added a trademark prosecution component to assist clients with filling out applications for their trademarks, and students will guide them through the prosecution process.
Student Work Assignments
Client work is done by students under the close supervision of Associate Dean Lee Dillion, a faculty member with substantial experience in private law practice, and Adjunct Clinical Professor Steve Nipper, an intellectual property law attorney in Boise who will oversee the trademark prosecution cases.
No litigation or contested proceedings are handled by the SBLC. 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.
SBLC student participants are graded on the quality of their work and on the amount of responsibility they assume for meeting clients' needs.
Contact: Lee Dillion, Associate Dean for Boise Programs, firstname.lastname@example.org, (208) 364-4013