New Businesses will provide most of the economy’s new job growth in the coming years. But the legal and economic gauntlet that start-ups face will eliminate most before they reach their second year. Few start-ups can afford the legal consultation to help them start smart and steer clear of pitfalls. Despite the abundant drive of the Bay Area’s entrepreneurs, many viable and promising businesses are choked off before they can take their essential place in the local economy. Affordable legal consultation for Bay Area entrepreneurs is critically needed to help release this potential. Law School Graduates can help fill this need, but only if they are well-prepared with a rigorous program of classroom preparation and hands on experience. While a majority of law students will be advising businesses post-graduation, traditional law school curriculum is addressed primarily to the needs of litigators and scholars. As described by one transactional lawyer on the op ed page of the Wall Street Journal:
“When they graduate, young lawyers rarely know how to interview clients, advocate for their positions, negotiate a settlement or perform any number of other tasks that lawyers do every day. In short, they are woefully unprepared to be lawyers… If law schools really want to change the way they train young lawyers, they would look to medical schools. The latter require clinical ‘rotations’ in the last two years of a student’s education… By the time your doctor is licensed, he has examined hundreds of patients.”
This echoes the call of Carnegie Foundation’s seminal MacCrate report which advocates for improvements in legal education, specifically:
- opportunities for students to work with real clients with real legal needs;
- opportunities for students to handle ethical challenges common to client work.
The New Business Practicum at Berkeley Law connects these needs– creating rich learning experiences for budding transactional lawyers, by linking them with Bay Area business start-ups that cannot afford consultation. The Practicum offers students still in school a chance to develop skills in transactional law under close mentorship from experienced lawyers. In addition, the Practicum serves as Berkeley Law’s only in-house experiential learning program with a local impact, supporting UC’s efforts to give back to its Bay Area community.