Three Michigan Student Law Services Your Startup Can Afford

By Kyle Pollock on December 14th, 2012 / Comments

You’ve decided to start your own business, but resources run low and you need to stretch your dollars as far as possible. Your forecast of startup costs tell you that lawyer services are going to take a large bite out of your budget. You’ve looked at sites like legalzoom.com, or rocketlawyer.com to draft up business documents, but you need to speak with someone in person.

Thanks to a few university resources, you have options for lawyer services.

University of Michigan & Michigan State

The University of Michigan Law School Entrepreneurship Clinic and Michigan State University College of Law Small Business & Nonprofit Clinic are just two resources student entrepreneurs can use. Both programs offer a range of services from evaluating and selecting a business entity to drafting legal documents, Protecting IP with patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. Clients need to be approved after applying to these clinics.

After approval, the programs do not charge for their services, however, clients are responsible for the expenses of registration, and filing which generally costs from $50 – $300 for most cases. The UM Entrepreneurship Clinic focuses only on student ventures. The MSU SBNP provides assistance to student ventures, local small businesses, and nonprofits. Second and third year law students will represent their matched businesses and ventures. The student attorneys receive credit for their work at the clinic and are supervised by licensed attorneys. The students’ final work is reviewed and signed off by the licensed attorneys.

Wayne State Legal Services

The Business & Community Law Clinic is Wayne Law’s transactional clinic. The clinic represents both for-profit and nonprofit clients who cannot afford to pay for legal services offered by attorneys in the private bar. Wayne State assists businesses located within Metro Detroit. Their services include entity formation, contract review and preparation, review and drafting of commercial real estate documents, preparation of trademark and copyright applications, and preparation of tax exempt applications for 501(c)(3) status. The clinic represents clients only on business transactions and does not work on litigation matters.

Since the clinic began serving clients in 2007, it has provided legal assistance to dozens of for-profit clients including record labels, a day spa, technology companies, a bath and body care manufacturer, and a financial literacy company, among others. It has also provided legal assistance to a myriad of start-up nonprofit clients including an organization formed to mentor at-risk students, an organization that provides free clothes and other material necessities to low income people, a public interest environmental law firm and more.

Why Take Advantage of These Services?

Compared to a law firm, most legal clinics will take more time drafting and reviewing each document, but the services are free. Law firms can offer seasoned attorneys, but may charge up to a few thousand for the first meeting. Another option is to seek out Michigan lawyers that focus on startup businesses. MIStartupLawyer.com features The Ostrow Law Firm, which offers monthly subscription based payment plans for startups instead of per hour.

Depending on your own resources you may choose the option that best matches your stance between your available time and your budget. There is no great “steal” for lawyer services-what you won’t pay for in money, you will pay for in time. These services are available to meet the needs of the growing student entrepreneurial community and those without the means to pay for lawyer services. A few more opportunities to show if there is a will there is a way.

Reach the UM Entrepreneurship Clinic.

Apply to the MSU SBNP Clinic.

For Wayne State call (313) 577-8859 or e-mail buscomlaw@wayne.eduClick here for a fact sheet on the Business & Community Law Clinic.

About the Author

Kyle Pollock

Formerly with Booklify, he is a freelance writer, web designer, and enjoys different cultures. He sports Vibram FiveFingers on his runs and is a big fan of Michigan family owned businesses. He is an MSU graduate with a degree in Professional Writing.