Students Hold Pop-Up Legal Clinic to Help New Yorkers Form Small Businesses

Students help participants in the NYC/NYCHA Food Business Pathways Program form limited liability companies and finalize legal contracts.

Sharanjit Sandhu ’19, right, meets with a client during the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic’s pop-up legal clinic to help him formalize his food business.On Oct. 17, students in Columbia Law's recently launched Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic helped a group of New Yorkers turn their dreams of starting and growing their own small food-related businesses into formal, legal enterprises. In partnership with Start Small Think Big, they hosted a pop-up legal clinic for residents of New York City public housing who participate in the NYC/NYCHA Food Business Pathways Program.

Students helped the budding entrepreneurs form limited liability companies and finalize operating agreements and catering contracts for their businesses. Program participants are all residents of New York City public housing who receive free training to start and grow food-related businesses.

The pop-up legal clinic was the first such event undertaken by the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, which provides students with the opportunity to develop business law and problem-solving skills while representing entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and community groups. The clinic is led by visiting professor Lynnise Pantin ’03, who is teaching students the skills they need to provide transactional legal services to entrepreneurs and community organizations.

“What was truly fulfilling for me, from a personal perspective, was being able to reflect on how much I’ve learned so far in the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic,” said Sharanjit Sandhu ’19, (pictured above). “At the beginning of the semester, I do not think I would have been able to answer most of the questions the client asked during the pop-up legal clinic nor would I have been able to feel truly confident in my legal advice. It was really rewarding to be able to put to good use the skills I’ve learned in the clinic and the knowledge I’ve gained from my clinic colleagues and other law school classes.”

The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic’s community partner, Start Small Think Big, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping under-resourced entrepreneurs create thriving businesses in underserved areas so owners can build wealth for themselves, their families and communities.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to see my students in action and gratifying to see clients leave the Law School having formed a legal entity and taking steps to move their businesses forward,” said Pantin.

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Published on November 16, 2018

 

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