The Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic (known by most as the “ELC”) held a festive 5-year anniversary party on April 25 in the Mabie Grand Atrium of Charney Hall, with ELC alumni and students, attorney mentors, former clinic clients, and University faculty and staff in attendance.  Dean Lisa Kloppenberg kicked off the program with a champagne toast, congratulating ELC Director Laura Norris (J.D. ’97) and the clinic on serving more than 130 startup clients and providing more than $1.7M of pro bono legal services since it opened its doors.  Provost Dennis Jacobs praised the ELC’s accomplishments at bringing together entrepreneurs and students from across the University, noting that “ELC exemplifies the convergence” we need at SCU, encouraging students of different disciplines to interact with each other early in their careers.  Prof. Eric Goldman provided a historical perspective on the ELC, describing the years-long planning process to define the appropriate high-tech focused clinical offering to allow students to work with live clients.

Santa Clara Law students George Casey (3L) and Orlando Villa (2L) moderated a panel of former ELC clients, consisting of a medical device company that makes radiation shields, a sustainable global coffee company, and a financial patent exchange featuring blockchain technology.  These panelists exemplify the diversity of entrepreneurs the clinic represents, and despite their very different business objectives, explained that the ELC was instrumental in helping them obtain quality legal advice in the nascent stages of their businesses.

A panel of four Santa Clara law alumni next spoke about the valuable skills gained from the clinic, and how the ELC work gave them a significant advantage in their early careers.  Price Murry (JD ’17) recalled that the ELC taught him how to balance legal advice with business objectives, so as not to “kill the deal.”

Panelists Jianbai (“Jenn”) Wang (J.D. ‘15) and Alissa Johnston (J.D. ‘17) further praised the curriculum of the ELC classroom component, covering a wide variety of legal issues faced by startups and filling gaps in Santa Clara’s curriculum.  Brittany Cuthbert (JD ’15) explained that the employment law expertise gained through the clinic came in handy when hiring for her own department at RPX Corporation.

As the sun set on Charney Hall, lively conversation continued between students, alumni, their clients and attorney-mentors, reconnecting and recharging for another five years of ELC success.

Images: Dereck Rovaris

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Laura Norris

Associate Clinical Professor; Co-Director, High Tech Law Institute; Director, Entrepreneurs' Law Clinic; Director, Tech Edge J.D. Program; Faculty Advisor, ChIPs Women in Tech Law at SCU