Community Business Clinic

Community Business Clinic

The Community Business Clinic is Northeastern’s primary transactional law clinic.

We offer students real-world experience in providing free, business-related legal services to startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially those in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The clinic’s work aims to support community-led growth.

Supervised by Professor Jared Nicholson, students help clients with a wide range of business-related needs, including:

  • Incorporation and choice of entity (corporation, limited liability company, etc.)
  • Contract negotiation, drafting and review (customer and vendor contracts, waivers, etc.)
  • Employment law
  • Licenses, permits, zoning
  • Intellectual property counseling
  • Commercial leases
  • Financing

For Students

The clinic offers students a unique opportunity to develop lawyering skills through the real-world experience of helping community clients achieve their transactional goals. Students, prepared and supported by an intensive seminar and close faculty supervision, assume the role of lawyers for their clients and their clients’ community businesses. Students interview and counsel clients, negotiate agreements, draft and review documents, represent clients on regulatory matters, manage relevant relationships and advise clients on the many other, often-complex legal issues that entrepreneurs and small businesses face.

Enrollment takes place through the course registration process. Corporations is a prerequisite.

For Potential Clients

  • The Community Business Clinic is currently at capacity and is not able to accept new clients at this time.
  • We can only serve a limited number of clients based on our capacity and timing. Our representation focuses on clients who could not otherwise afford a private attorney. We also evaluate the potential benefit to the communities we serve. A client must sign an engagement letter before we can begin any legal work.
  • Our legal services are free. Clients are responsible for any outside costs associated with the clinic’s legal work such as government application or filing fees.
  • We represent clients on specific matters. We can also present to groups on common legal issues for small businesses.

History

This clinic was founded by a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Commerce, with the goal of developing a university center providing free legal services to low-income and other underserved entrepreneurs in the region. The grant was part of a competitive, national program designed to enhance regional economic development tools that expand opportunity and create jobs. Related research conducted by Professor Dyal-Chand and Professor Rowan, senior advisor, has been used to develop a national model of clinical legal assistance in support of sustainable business creation and technology commercialization among underserved entrepreneurs.

Clinic Director