UNC Law to help entrepreneurs

The University of North Carolina School of Law has started a program to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs. It received a $1.53 million gift from the Kenan Trust to create the program, and the state’s General Assembly will kick in $465,000 in recurring funds to keep the program going. Many start-ups don’t have the biggest war chests — they’re newbies, after all — so getting legal help is a challenge. The program will help provide it.

“We are thrilled and inspired by the investment in the education of Carolina students that the Kenan Trust and the people of North Carolina, through their representatives, are making,” said Martin H. Brinkley '92, dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor at UNC School of Law.

"Clinical education geared toward organizational clients, and the business and social entrepreneurs who establish them, is important to large numbers of our students. The new entrepreneurship program will help Carolina Law embrace its mission by fulfilling dual goals of teaching and service. With this generous gift from the Kenan Trust and additional support from the state, we will be able to provide an invaluable experiential learning opportunity for approximately 30 students a year while serving several times that number of for-profit and nonprofit entrepreneurial ventures each year.”

The new program will serve business and social enterprise entrepreneurs on the campuses of UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, in partnership with UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, NC State University’s Poole College of Management, as well as the innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructures on both campuses, according to the law school. The UNC School of Law also intends to identify one or more economic incubators in underserved parts of North Carolina that the entrepreneurship program can support.

In addition to providing educational opportunities for law students, the program will fill the one consistent gap across all startup settings: a lack of access to legal counsel. Legal advice for early-stage businesses and nonprofits, which typically have limited resources, is hard to find, the school notes. 

The program is expected to kick off in the 2019-2020 academic year. 

North Carolina is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top five places to start a new business. Because of the rich and thriving entrepreneurial culture of the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina and the business schools and entrepreneurial initiatives at local universities, the institute will serve a pipeline of clients from potential partners across the state, the school noted. 

“The Kenan Trust has always focused on the needs of the communities it serves and education is the foundation,” said Douglas Zinn, executive director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust. “We recognize that student education doesn’t just happen in the classroom and we are excited to support the entrepreneurship program that will train law students while strengthening North Carolina communities and the state’s economy.”


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