IJ Clinic Students Expand Legal Services
By Patricia Lee
Chicago entrepreneurs (like small business people nationwide) face tremendous challenges as they try to create and grow their businesses. With the odds of success already stacked against them, there is a tremendous need for effective legal representation to guide these would-be business people not just through transactional matters, such as deciding what legal structure a business should take, but in the regulatory arena as well. Up until now, however, law students enrolled in the Institute for Justice’s Clinic on Entrepreneurship had to draw the line of the services they could provide to entrepreneurs at the administrative hearing’s door. They lacked one legal credential that would allow them to provide a full range of legal services, even under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
To add this important arrow to their legal quivers, third-year law students in the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship Martha Tsuchihashi, Brenna Findley, Madhu Goel, Dan Liljenquist and Mary McDermott recently received their “711 certification” licenses from the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. This certification allows students, under the supervision of an attorney, to expand their representation of clients into the regulatory arena. It also allows these students, who are principally transactional and regulatory advocates, to represent entrepreneurs, who are often the target of obstinate bureaucrats, in courts of law if necessary.
Chicago entrepreneur Kimberly Smith founded and runs Heavenly Expressions by Kimberly with the help of the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship.
Of the many lessons our students learn through the IJ Clinic, time management is one of the most essential. Martha Tsuchihashi, for example, who has participated in the IJ Clinic for the past three quarters, split her time during the autumn quarter between a nonprofit organization and for profit businesses. In the beginning of the quarter, she reviewed and edited the by-laws of the Chicago Job Council, which connects city residents with training and support needed to gain self-sustaining employment. She then turned her attention to Kimberly Smith, the owner of a startup company called Heavenly Expressions by Kimberly in Chicago. This particular entrepreneur and mother of four runs a gift basket business on Chicago’s Southside. Martha and Giancarlo Barletta, a summer student at the IJ Clinic, worked with Smith on incorporation, tax matters, licensing and a general contract. Her business was one of the several dynamic businesses recently featured in Barron’s and the Chicago Reader.
So whether in administrative hearings or beside their clients at their place of business, IJ Clinic students are applying the skills and lessons they’ve learned to advance entrepreneurship in Chicago’s inner-city.
Patricia H. Lee is director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship.