Beth Milnikel: The Entrepreneur’s Entrepreneur
IJ Clinic Director Beth Milnikel and Clinic student Shawna Doran meet with client Alex Morales.
By Chip Mellor
Beth Milnikel, the director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School, is the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. Each day, Beth oversees the operation of the nation’s only legal clinic that provides free legal assistance exclusively to entrepreneurs seeking to create private-sector jobs. All the while, she masterfully guides the education of University of Chicago Law School students who, under her tutelage, learn to provide transactional legal services to budding business owners. Beth’s straightforward, modest, honest approach has earned the respect of students, clients and other faculty alike.
Beth Milnikel not only instructs students through the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, she directs the students’ clinical work that helps grow small businesses in inner-city Chicago.
Beth came into this job with a background in litigation and intellectual property with the law firm of Sidley Austin. She had to quickly master the substance of day-to-day transactional work required by the IJ Clinic’s low- and moderate-income clients, a task that became critical when she became the IJ Clinic’s acting director soon after joining us. During the course of the following year, she transformed the IJ Clinic class, which teaches dozens of students throughout the year, into one that is bigger, better and more exciting than ever. She’s done this by working closely not only with the law school students, but also making a concerted outreach effort in the inner-city community that surrounds the University of Chicago.
Beth continues her work with an ever-conscientious effort, seeing each day as a learning experience not only for the students, but also for herself; this makes for a dynamic and exciting environment in which the real-life needs of clients are always met.
Beth received her J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 1999 and later clerked for the Honorable Bruce M. Selya on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. During her time at Michigan, she focused on intellectual property law, served as Managing Editor of the Michigan Law Review, and interned in the General Counsel’s office of the Guggenheim Museum. As an undergraduate, Beth studied Comparative Literature at Yale University, graduating magna cum laude in 1996.
It takes a special talent to be able to relate to (and inspire) both high-powered law students at the University of Chicago Law School and the clients served by the IJ Clinic. Beth demonstrates every day that she has that talent. That means Clinic students will receive a uniquely rewarding education and it makes the future look very bright for the creation of new businesses in Chicago’s South Side.
Chip Mellor is IJ’s president and general counsel.