Entrepreneurial Experience : The Business/Law Exchange
By Liz Warren-Pederson
Partnership teams law students and entrepreneurship teams
In 2006, the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship established a partnership with the James E. Rogers College of Law that resulted in the Business / Law Exchange™, the centerpiece of which is a mock law firm class.
The class teams law students with entrepreneurship students; the latter serve as clients to the former during the venture development process. “Early in the class, the entrepreneurship students are forming into teams and developing executive summaries for their ventures,” says Larry Hecker, principal with Hecker & Muehlbach, who teaches the course. “My students will review the summaries for glaring legal issues. As the semester progresses, they will begin to interact directly with the entrepreneurship students, assisting them with legal issues that arise.”
There are a dozen third-year law students in the class; in teams of two, they each serve as mock counsel to three client teams. “They’re learning how to communicate with non-lawyers on complex legal issues,” Hecker says. “And they’re learning that one of the big challenges with entrepreneurship and law is identifying the particular legal issues inherent in any given venture.”
Like the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, the class is one year long, so the venture teams can benefit from legal insight throughout their processes. “In every way,” Hecker says, “we’ve tried to make it as much like the real world as possible, although there’s no requirement to keep billing sheets or bill a minimum number of mock hours during the semester.”