March 06, 2017

Lawyers for Start-Ups

LC’s Small Business Legal Clinic serves entrepreneurs who don’t have much money but need setting on the right path

This is an excerpt from a story in Portland’s Business Tribune published on March 2, 2017.

In the white-collar world, going to see a lawyer is the equivalent of seeing red and blue lights in your rear mirror, or hearing the whistle of the dentist’s drill.

Small businesses are often so small that their owners don’t even realize they need legal advice. But according to Julieanna Elegant, they really should cover themselves.

Elegant is the Executive Director of the Lewis & Clark Law School’s Small Business Legal Clinic (SBLC), which serves all Oregon but most of whose lawyers are based in the Portland area. The focus is on low-income business owners, the startups and the entrepreneurs who are the plankton of the Oregon economy, who might one day evolve into the sharks.

For a hairdresser or chocolatier who goes from working in their home kitchen to setting up shop, seeing a lawyer can be expensive, confusing, and often raises more fears than it allays.

However, this Small Business Legal Clinic aims to serve just those people on the margins.

The lawyers are with you

“Seeing a lawyer is cost prohibitive,” says Elegant flatly. Especially for the sort of clients who end up in the SBLC’s rather unglamorous offices at 310 S.W. Fourth Ave.

Forty percent of the school’s clients are immigrants or minorities owned, and that rises to 70 percent when you include women-owned businesses.

“We serve everyone who fits under the guidelines: if they are Oregon–based and low income. We are particularly proud of servicing those who wouldn’t normally be able to have this support.”

Read the full article.