Rutgers Law School’s Entrepreneurship Clinic serves as an engine of community development, representing entrepreneurs who are predominantly women and people of color, operating in struggling urban environments. Spring 2020 proved to be a greater challenge to the clinic’s clients. “The pandemic and ensuing recession have made the Clinic's services all the more needed,” said Professor Doug Eakeley, the clinic’s founder and director.
Students who participate in the clinic would ordinarily gain experience working with exciting startups run by local entrepreneurs, assisting them with navigating the legal hurdles associated with starting a new business. Professor Eakeley praised the clinic’s students. “In addition to continuing to serve engaged clients of the clinic, our students went above and beyond and joined other Rutgers Law School students through the Small Business Relief Initiative to provide information and resources to small businesses regarding government relief under the CARES Act.” This small group provided this information to thirty local small businesses.
The small businesses they assisted include a passionate entrepreneur who had an unincorporated startup pharmaceutical initiative aimed at providing an FDA-approved estrogen supplement to transgender women. The clinic helped her with legal entity and domicile selection, drafting a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement, and advising her about the value of an advisory committee and how to prepare the requisite documentation.
Other clients the clinic assisted last semester include the following: a nonprofit that creates water-purifying devices for third-world countries with little or no access to clean water; a nonprofit that seeks to raise awareness of diabetes and hypertension, while also providing the diagnostic and educational tools necessary to take preventive measures and lead a healthy lifestyle; and a nonprofit engaged in the business of providing a variety of necessary community services such as homelessness assistance, health management, case management, therapy, social work, job preparedness, and teen pregnancy counseling.
While there were many small businesses and startups that made the difficult decision to discontinue their business initiatives as a result of the pandemic, the stories of many of the Entrepreneurship Clinic’s clients shows that there are many new businesses working hard to provided needed assistance to the community, and the clinic is available to help them navigate their legal concerns so the entrepreneurs behind these businesses can focus on their ideas and passions.