IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship

Assistance for Entrepreneurs



What Does the IJ Clinic Do?

The IJ Clinic provides free legal representation for lower-income entrepreneurs in Chicago.  We are not a walk-in service or help desk for urgent questions.  Rather, we focus on building long-term relationships with a small group of clients.  University of Chicago law students advise our clients under the guidance of IJ Clinic attorneys, so the Clinic is also a training ground for future advocates for entrepreneurs.

We don’t want legal complexities to thwart Chicago’s entrepreneurs!

With our help, clients:

  • Set up a business organization
  • Apply for licenses and permits
  • Negotiate leases
  • Put clear contracts in place
  • Understand applicable regulations
  • Navigate the hiring process
  • Protect intellectual property
  • And more

The IJ Clinic also provides opportunities for community members to come together and learn about entrepreneurship.  Every year, we host workshops, seminars and discussion groups.  We are also happy to speak to business groups, community organizations or classes about how cash-strapped entrepreneurs can make their dreams reality.

IJ Clinic client Esmeralda Rodriguez.


Do I qualify?

The IJ Clinic selects a small group of clients who are building exciting bootstrap businesses.  To qualify for the IJ Clinic’s services, entrepreneurs must:

  • Start or run a for-profit business that will enrich Chicago’s economy,
  • Need in-depth legal assistance,
  • Model the positive role that entrepreneurship can play in the city,
  • Agree to assistance from law students supervised by lawyers,
  • Meet financial eligibility guidelines requiring low to moderate household income.* 

*Generally, we aim to serve businesses whose founder(s) have a household income at or below three times the U.S. Poverty Guidelines.

 Household Size   IJ Clinic's Income Guideline 
1 $34,470
2 $46,530
3 $58,590
4 $70,650
5 $82,710
6 $94,770

What Does the IJ Clinic Cost?

Because the IJ Clinic seeks to help those who have limited access to the private bar, we do not charge any fees for our services. Clients bear their costs (such as an incorporation filing fee) and any out-of-pocket expenses (such as transportation to or from the IJ Clinic).

How Do I Begin?

If you are interested in working with the IJ Clinic please complete our online intake form, so that we can learn more about your business and your legal needs. If you qualify for our services, we will add you to our waiting pool. Please note that the IJ Clinic does not take walk-in appointments. If you need more immediate assistance, or assistance outside our expertise, we can refer you to other resources for entrepreneurs in the Chicago area.



IJ Clinic former clients Brandi Cousins and Charvon Nicholson of Ice Cream Please.


Client Testimonials:

The IJ clinic helped us organize our past experiences and our future goals by asking the questions that were relevant to our contracts, operating agreements, potential clients etc. This was very practical and pertinent - we needed that. Without it, we would not have felt as stable to put ourselves out there.
-Abir Ali of Ali Sandifer

I must thank you for all the help you have been to MerriBella Fashions. Small Businesses such as myself really need the type of assistance that is provided from the Justice Clinic. Never forget the tremendous impact you had on my business. I don't think I had expressed it before but believe me, I know how special and lucky my store has been to have all of you helping me!!!
-Lerona Johnson founder of MerriBella Fashions


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Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.682.9320, Fax 703.682.9321
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