One of the Law School's clinical projects, the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship ("IJ"), was the subject of a recent piece in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the source for news in the Chicago legal world, highlighting its work with low-income individuals wishing to start up businesses in the Chicago area. The piece focused on one the project's recent success stories: the Perfect Peace Cafe & Bakery located on Chicago's southwest side. The shop is a bright spot in what is an otherwise desolate neighborhood but the hope is that its arrival will mark the reinvigoration of the community, not only providing residents with a gathering place but also inspire other businesses to return to the area.
Project Director and Lecturer in Law, Elizabeth Milnikel, described some of the Project's goals and its recent work for clients like Perfect Peace Cafe & Bakery's owners, Denise Nicholes and Julie Welborn: "We're trying to serve those who can't afford an attorney. We're convinced that an entrepreneur's ability to create new business creates new opportunity for the entrepreneurs, community members and potential employees." Among the services IJ provides its 150 clients since its inception nearly ten years ago are: writing and negotiating contracts, creating loan agreements with investors and lenders, acquiring business permits and helping clients understand workplace safety regulations and payroll taxes.
Nicholes and Welborn praised IJ's attentive and responsive service stating, "It was just a miracle how everything came together, ... [t]here were questions I never knew I had to ask." Welborn went on to further praise IJ's work on their behalf, "At any time we needed to negotiate with the contractors, architects or landlords, they were a part of it. To this day, anything I do, I run by them first. In that alone, I don't even know how to put a value to it."
The benefits of the project extend not only to its clients but also the 2L and 3L students who participate. Kathy Lee, a 3L in the project and member of the Clinic Student Board, commented: "Being able to see issues real people face and being able to address them ... wading through their stories and picking out the legal roadblocks they might face, that is completely different from the experience of going through hypotheticals" in the classroom.
IJ is just one of the unique clinical projects at the Law School offering students the opportunity to do transactional work that also intersects with aspects of intellectual property and regulatory law. You can learn more about the other clinical projects by visiting the Clinical Education homepage as well as visiting past posts on the clinics here on "A Day in the Life." To read the full piece in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin visit the Law School News Page.