In late 2015, Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsma didn’t pick Portland as the nation’s number one food city because of our restaurants alone. Rather, he says, our area’s entire culinary scene is superior to all others because of our countless high-quality food carts, bakeries, coffee shops, wineries, breweries, distilleries, grocers and local farmers and producers, as well as the unique pride we take in sourcing everything locally as a way of life. Portland sets the trend for the rest of the country to follow.
But the awareness of the necessity for legal services and representation among culinary entrepreneurs has not kept pace with the sector’s rapid growth. Lewis & Clark Law School aims to change that to the benefit of the entire local industry.
At present, Lewis & Clark offers a class in food law, runs a Small Business Legal Clinic to guide local entrepreneurs, and has a student-run Food & Wine Law Society (FWLS). Vytas Babusis, third-year law student and FWLS co-founder, says Lewis & Clark, like Portland, is where we “authentically live [our] beliefs, from recycling to biking to work to how we practice law.” With the nation’s number one Environmental Law program, first Animal Law program, and a long-standing Business Law program, it came organically to rethink how law can naturally help guide those working with food.
That’s why the law school and FWLS launched an annual Food Law Forum, the first of which took place last year. This year’s forum, Food Fusion: Law’s Sustaining Role in Business, is scheduled for April 15.