Marquette University
Press Release

Marquette Law School to launch Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic

The clinic will be the first program in the Milwaukee area to offer free legal services to startup businesses and entrepreneurs.

By - Dec 15th, 2014 01:50 pm

MILWAUKEE – Marquette University Law School is launching a Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic, a new experiential learning opportunity for law students that enhances the Law School’s commitment to public service and supports several new campus-wide and community innovation initiatives.

The clinic will be the first program in the Milwaukee area to offer free legal services to startup businesses and entrepreneurs, with a focus on clients who cannot afford qualified legal counsel. The clinic will be staffed by Marquette law students, who will receive hands-on training in business law under the supervision of a licensed attorney and member of the faculty.

The Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic supports the vision laid out by Marquette president Michael R. Lovell. Since taking office on July 1, Lovell has called upon the campus community to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship, announcing several initiatives to support that goal.

“Entrepreneurs always need more time to spend on their ideas and innovations, which is exactly what the Law School’s new Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic will allow them to do,” Lovell said. “In return, our students will learn how to have a direct impact on the next wave of startups. Together, we’ll advance the region’s reputation as a place where great concepts thrive.”

Adding the Law and Entrepreneurship clinic to an already robust range of pro bono legal services affirms the Law School’s ongoing commitment to community engagement. Over the past decade-plus, Marquette has engaged the community through several initiatives, including the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic; the award-winning Mobile Legal Clinic; the Marquette Law School Poll; “On the Issues” forums dedicated to the discussion of current issues; and a wide variety of distinguished lectures, conferences and political debates, all open to the public.

As is the case with other public policy initiatives, including the Marquette Law School Poll, the clinic will be funded by donations to Law School’s Annual Fund.

“The Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic will serve both our students and the broader community,” said Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette University Law School. “Work performed in the clinic will contribute to the knowledge of law students and their formation into skilled, ethical attorneys by affording them rigorous, practical opportunities in transactional law. The clinic will also serve as a key resource for entrepreneurs in southeast Wisconsin.”

The launch is being directed by Nathan Hammons, who joins the Law School on a full-time basis as a clinical faculty member and director of the clinic. Hammons previously served as an adjunct professor at the Law School while operating his own private law practice in Milwaukee, where he represented early-stage entrepreneurs and small businesses with a focus on tech startups in southeast Wisconsin.

The Law and Entrepreneurship clinic will operate in similar fashion to pro bono programs offered through the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic, where current law students partner with volunteer working attorneys. But unlike other Marquette pro bono programs, where attorneys and students volunteer to provide brief legal advice to individuals, students in the Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic will earn curricular credit and serve clients over the course of months or possibly longer.

The clinic will open in a limited capacity in the spring semester 2015 and is expected to be fully operational by fall 2015. Clients will be selected based on a wide range of criteria, including access to legal services, educational fit, and potential for community impact. Legal services will include counsel on:

  • Business-entity selection and formation
  • Corporate governance
  • Funding
  • Business contracts
  • Employment matters
  • Business licenses and permits
  • Commercial leases
  • Basic intellectual property matters, including trademarks, copyrights and licensing.

Clients needing help with patents, a specialized area of the law, will be referred to competent local counsel. The clinic also will not handle litigation or other matters outside the normal scope of legal services for new businesses.

Hammons will supervise and mentor law students who participate in the clinic. He is actively involved in Milwaukee’s startup community and has given presentations to the Milwaukee Bar Association and other organizations on legal issues impacting startups.

“I’m honored to be a part of the Marquette community and excited to help launch the clinic,” Hammons said. “The clinic will help train students to become top-notch business attorneys, while giving them yet another outlet to answer the university’s call to serve others and enhance our community.”

Hammons previously ran his own firm, providing legal representation on business formation, governance, contracts, intellectual property, regulatory compliance, risk management, and dispute resolution.

He began his legal career in Chicago at the international law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where he represented Fortune 100 clients on product liability matters and mass torts. He later served as associate general counsel for DePaul University, where he counseled internal clients on business issues and disputes, among other things. Before moving to Milwaukee, Professor Hammons served as Appellate Court Attorney for the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, in Rochester, New York.

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