Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

Representing the start-ups of low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses, students develop substantive knowledge and transactional lawyering skills by serving as pro bono counsel.


Business owners who are committed to strengthening communities—such as through job creation or by providing valuable goods and services for their communities—often have limited resources. Students provide these clients with essential legal counsel through a wide range of transactional legal services while also receiving the hands-on, practical experience needed to navigate the evolving fields of entrepreneurship and community development. The clinic not only promotes economic empowerment and social innovation but also contributes meaningfully to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the New York City area.

Students advise clients on a variety of legal issues crucial for new and emerging businesses including:

  • Entity choice and corporate formation.
  • Employment law.
  • Trademark and copyright registration and protection.
  • Strategizing, negotiating, drafting, and reviewing contracts and agreements.
  • Ongoing corporate and regulatory matters.
  • Public policy issues that impact small businesses and community organizations.

Advanced Opportunities

Students who choose to continue with the Advanced Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic can broaden their experience by: 

  • Providing community education and outreach to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs and community-based organizations.
  • Holding bi-weekly office hours with various incubators such as the Columbia Startup Lab.
  • Assisting the clinic in identifying potential clients and partner organizations.

Information for Clients

The clinic represents organizations and small businesses that:

  • Cannot afford outside legal counsel.
  • Serve a community need.
  • Have detailed business plans with defined goals.
  • Have not received significant outside funding or financing from investors.
  • Are located in New York State, preferably within the five boroughs of New York City.

Successful applicants will meet with law students for an in-person interview and to review a retainer agreement detailing the scope and terms of the clinic’s representation. A signed agreement is required before any legal work begins. Our legal services are free. Clients are responsible for any outside costs associated with the clinic’s legal work such as government-mandated applications or filing fees.

The clinic does not provide counsel on litigation, patents, complex tax matters, securities, public mergers or acquisitions, or international trade.