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History

We have provided in-depth, first-rate legal assistance for over 200 clients, ranging from a flower peddler to a fast-growing tech start-up. When our clients face an intimidating obstacle, like tough negotiations, handicapping legal restrictions or the overwhelming complexities of business, we craft a strategic plan to help them. Our clients say time and again that they could not have pushed ahead to grow their businesses without IJ’s help and support. We take pride in the jobs those businesses have created and all of the customers they have served.

We have also supported thousands of entrepreneurs by hosting workshops, networking events and conferences to answer the pressing questions that entrepreneurs face. Our biggest conferences to date were our Recipe for Success events in 2013 and 2014, where aspiring and experienced food entrepreneurs gathered to learn about legal requirements and business strategies that would allow them to add new flavors to the local palate and new businesses to the local economy.

We work tirelessly to change the laws in Chicago and Illinois that make it too difficult to start a small business. We publish reports and studies, testify at public hearings, organize grassroots campaigns and lobby city and state officials to expose and reform the laws that hurt entrepreneurs. We have helped knock down laws burdening children’s play centers and Internet cafes. We spearhead the My Streets My Eats campaign to advocate for food trucks and food carts in Chicago. We are founding members of the Street Vendors Justice Coalition, which has drafted a new ordinance legalizing food carts in Chicago and  works with community groups to plan shared kitchens for vendors and other entrepreneurs to use.

All of the work we do immerses law students at the University of Chicago in the real-world practice of entrepreneurship law. We introduce law students to the themes of our work in the classroom and then continue to guide them during their time at the IJ Clinic. Supervised by the Clinic’s experienced attorneys, the law students counsel clients and educate community groups about the law and about how to make the most out of business negotiations, planning and contractual relationships. The students see firsthand that the entrepreneurs’ struggles are real and valiant, and they become stronger advisors and advocates as a result.

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