The Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic allows students to represent entrepreneurs, startups and nonprofit organizations in a setting similar to a small law firm. Under the direction of Professor from Practice Tom Sharbaugh, students provide legal services to the clinic’s clients in much the same manner as practicing lawyers.
The issues most frequently encountered in the clinic include choice of entity, entity formation, founder and initial investor agreements, shareholder agreements, loan arrangements, certain intellectual property protection, commercial real estate leasing and acquisition, operating agreements, employee management, and compliance with regulatory requirements.
Clinic students learn the basic skills necessary to attract and interview potential clients, organize a business plan, communicate orally and in writing with a client and third parties, conduct research, draft transactional documents, and prepare for, and manage, closings.
Students adhere to basic principles of law office administration and will be expected to comply with law office protocols (e.g., conflicts, client confidentiality, and time and expense record keeping) and will learn and conform to the professional responsibilities of lawyers engaged in business transactional practice.
The clinic meets weekly to discuss client projects, skill development, legal issues affecting entrepreneurs, and counsel for entrepreneurs. Students also meet individually as necessary with the clinic director regarding the representation of particular clients.
Sharbaugh, the clinic’s founding director, has been a business lawyer and partner for over 26 years in the Philadelphia office of the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP law firm. In recent years, he has been active writing and speaking about raising capital for early-stage businesses. Sharbaugh received his undergraduate degree in economics from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, with highest distinction, and his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, magna cum laude.
Corporations is required as a prerequisite or students can be concurrently enrolled. Clinic students must also have completed one of the following courses: Representing the Entrepreneur, or Business Planning for Small Business Enterprises.
The following courses are recommended, but not required: Agency, Partnerships, and Limited Liability Entities, Basic Federal Income Taxation, and Introduction to Intellectual Property.
Faculty approval required.