The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (ELC or the Clinic) provides law students with practical experience in transactional law while offering valuable legal services without charge to local startup businesses lacking access to legal resources. The ELC pursues the following complementary student and client goals:
By assisting entrepreneurs when they need help the most, the ELC provides CU Law School students hands-on opportunities to make a difference in the community.
The Clinic’s clients include University of Colorado students and professors, local entrepreneurs, and local startup companies. CU Law School students staff the Clinic during the academic year under the joint supervision of a full-time clinician and experienced attorneys from top law firms and businesses in Boulder and Denver. Clinic students work in teams of two and counsel several clients throughout the academic year while working under several supervising attorneys.
Students interact directly with clients to provide legal advice on a wide range of business-law issues including basic corporate work, commercial contracts, and select intellectual property matters. Typical tasks include advising clients regarding choice of entity; forming corporations and limited liability companies; drafting shareholder agreements and operating agreements; drafting employment agreements, consulting agreements and intellectual property agreements; counseling clients regarding trademark and other intellectual property strategies and prosecuting patents. Each week students engage in a roundtable discussion where they present and analyze issues related to their client matters.
In addition to work on behalf of clients, student attorneys read materials on topics salient to entrepreneurial law and participate in seminar discussions and problem solving exercises led by local attorneys and entrepreneurs. The seminar component focuses on issues that transactional attorneys frequently address in working with entrepreneurs and emerging companies. Finally, each student attorney team completes a project that focuses on the local entrepreneurial community. Representative projects include presenting legal issues to underserved entrepreneurs, researching ethical issues related to transactional practice, and drafting agreements for use by professors who teach classes in which startups are formed.
"The ELC helped assess and execute the legal documents that our growing company needed to protect ourselves. We worked with two detail-oriented, passionate teams; it was very hard to believe that they were law students! Most importantly, they helped shuttle our trademark documents through the USPTO - a daunting feat for a startup of two. If it wasn't for them, our name/brand could very well still be in purgatory. We'd recommend the ELC to any startup business in Colorado!" – Meg Meyer, Co-Founder of The Bear and The Rat
"The ELC helped us get a rock-solid legal foundation when we didn't have resources to spare, and the experience of working with the law students was really rewarding." – Nate Abbott, Co-Founder of Everlater
"The ELC was tremendously helpful in providing a strong starting point for which we have been able to grow. The Clinic was incredibly valuable help when time and resources are so in demand." – Andrew Pudalov, President of RUSH BOWLS
"The ELC helped University Parent in a countless number of ways, including auditing our existing legal documents, drafting agreements, and making sure that we were in good standing. I'm so thankful for their support." – Sarah Schupp, Founder of UniversityParent.com
"Mi Casa offers a 14 week business planning class for entrepreneurs and small business owners. One of the important classes is on legal entities and aspects of small business ownership. The ELC has filled this gap of knowledge that small business owners have. The knowledge imparted is very practical and the business owners leave with a clear idea of important legal issues they need to be aware of. The ELC provides simple, practical, and credible information for small business owner's to move forward with their business." – Elena Vasconez, Director of Business Development, Mi Casa Resource Center – Denver Women’s Business Center
The ELC provides various types of assistance, including:
There are a few areas of practice that the Clinic does not cover, mainly: litigation (or situations where litigation appears likely); pure tax advice; and immigration law.
Applications to the ELC should be submitted in late-July through mid-August. The majority of the Clinic’s clients are on-boarded and engaged at the beginning of the school year in late-August and early September. Although applications are accepted throughout the year, there is often a large wait list by late August, and applicants are only accepted from the wait list if Clinic resources are available.
Acceptance Process: The three steps listed below must be completed before the ELC can accept and commence work for an applicant. The following client selection process is typically completed in late August. All client selection decisions are subject to ELC staffing availability and are solely within the ELC’s discretion.
If the application is accepted, the client must sign an engagement letter prior to any ELC assistance. Once the engagement letter is signed, the student team will begin substantive legal work for the client.
The ELC does not charge fees for its services. However, clients must pay any out of pocket costs associated with ELC work (e.g., state filing fees for entity formation).
The ELC provides students the opportunity to gain practical experience in transactional law by handling real legal issues with real clients. Students learn to manage client relationships, develop workflow plans, and deliver valuable work product for clients, all while benefiting from professional guidance and insight of experienced supervising attorneys. The year long Clinic gives students some of the most hands-on experiences available in law school, and prepares students for the demands of actual law practice. Additionally, students develop lasting relationships with both the legal and business community, helping to grow the students professional network. Additional information can be found on the ELC main page and reading the Scope and Mission sections.
While the ELC is a unique opportunity for law students, other offerings exist for students to learn and engage in entrepreneurship. Such offerings include:
As a prerequisite to enrolling in the Clinic, a student must take three courses within the areas of corporate law, agency, tax, securities, intellectual property, transactional drafting, or transactional law. For guidance on relevancy of coursework, see courses required for the Entrepreneurial Law Certificate. ELC students should plan on taking additional relevant coursework while enrolled in the Clinic.
ELC applicants should have demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship, which may be demonstrated through the following:
The ELC is a graded two-semester course for which students receive three credit hours for each of the Fall semester and the Spring semester (or six credit hours for the academic year). The Clinic is limited to 18 students. Sixteen of the students are third year students, and two of the students are second year students who focus on the areas of intellectual property and patent prosecution. The second year students are encouraged to enroll in the Clinic during their third year in order to provide continuity with respect to the Clinic’s patent prosecution matters.
The ELC serves as a capstone transactional experience for law students. Applications to the ELC are collected each Spring in the weeks preceding registration for enrollment. The Registrar sends notice in March to rising third year students with instructions for application. Qualified applicants are identified through an application process. Selection of qualified applicants is completed via the bid-point system with ties being determined by a lottery system. Qualified applicants who do not directly gain entry into the ELC are placed on a waitlist.
Additional student and enrollment information is available by contacting Brad.Bernthal@Colorado.edu
The Patent Group is a sub-section within the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic that allows law students interested in patent law to receive substantive experience in patent prosecution. Students in the Patent Group are temporarily authorized to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) under the USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification program [link]. Under the supervision of registered patent attorneys, students guide and advise startup businesses and independent inventors through issues concerning patent strategy, and students draft and prosecute patent applications and related correspondence for those clients. Students also learn the strategy and practical knowledge necessary to create high-quality patents, including prior art searching, advanced drafting techniques, and responding to USPTO correspondence.
Unique to the Patent Group, second-year students are eligible for admittance to the Clinic (the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic is typically open only to third-year students). Admitted second-year students are encouraged to re-enroll during their third year for the opportunity to mentor incoming second-year students and to help maintain continuity for clients and pending patent applications. Students involved in the Patent Group receive temporary registration numbers to represent clients directly before the USPTO and therefore must have a science or technical background that qualifies them to sit for the USPTO registration exam.
The Patent Group is part of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, and students will fully participate in, and will get the benefit of weekly class sessions and other activities of the Clinic. In each of the Fall and Spring semesters, students in the Patent Group will receive three credit hours for completing requirements of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic plus an additional two credit hours for completing requirements of the Patent Group.
Applications for positions in the Patent Group are collected each Spring preceding enrollment registration. Students are selected by the Director of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, supervising attorneys of the Patent Group, and current students of the Patent Group, and the selection process is fully separate from the process that governs other positions in the Clinic.
The Law School Clinic Certification Pilot program of the USPTO allows law students enrolled in a participating law school clinic to practice Intellectual Property Law before the USPTO under the strict guidance of a law school faculty clinic supervisor. The program currently consists of students practicing patent law before the USPTO. The program is administered by the Office of Enrollment and Discipline. The Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline grants the law students limited recognition to practice before the Office.
Students gain experience drafting and filing patent applications for clients of the ELC. Further, as they are authorized to practice before the USPTO, they gain experience answering Office Actions and communicating with patent examiners for the applications they have filed.
The ELC does not charge a fee for its services, but if there are any government fees required for a service, such as a patent application filing fee to the USPTO, the client is responsible for those government fees. While the ELC will assist clients on a variety of intellectual property matters, it is focused on patent prosecution and will not handle litigation or contested matters.
The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic requests all prospective clients seeking patent related work fill out the following electronic application, save it and submit it by email to the ELC Student Manager.
Submission of an application does NOT create an attorney/client relationship between the applicant and the ELC.
The three steps listed below must be completed before the ELC can accept and commence work for an applicant. All client selection decisions are subject to ELC staffing availability and are solely within the ELC’s discretion.
If the application is accepted, the client must sign an engagement letter prior to any ELC assistance. Unless otherwise agreed and specified, the scope of work will be limited only to patent related matters. Once the engagement letter is signed, the student team will begin substantive legal work for the client.
If you are interested in giving back to the ELC please contact Brad Bernthal. Opportunities to give back directly through the CU Law School include the following:
Sarah L. Rector Memorial Scholarship – Established to provide scholarships to recipients at the Colorado Law School who embody the spirit of Sarah Rector, an alumna of the ELC. Special consideration may be given to students who participate in CU Law Schools’ entrepreneurship program.
J. Brad Bernthal Endowed Scholarship – Established to provide scholarship support to CU Law School students who embody the spirit of Professor Brad Bernthal, the instructor of the ELC.
Companies that wish to donate a portion of their equity for the benefit of the Clinic may do so through Pledge 1% Colorado. Please contact Brad Bernthal for more information regarding Pledge 1% Colorado.
The ELC is supported by a network of Clinical Advisors. The Clinic Advisors below are some of the Front Range's leading practicing attorneys. These individuals generously donate their time to help advise Student Attorneys on issues faced by the ELC and, through their involvement, they are training the next generation of transactional attorneys. They provide critical support which helps the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic promote innovation by helping the area's entrepreneurial ventures.