A year later, UNL's Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic has proven its model

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Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014 12:00 am

Listening to Brett Stohs swell with pride about the University of Nebraska College of Law's Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic is "probably about as exciting as listening to a law firm lawyer talk about how awesome their firm has grown in the last year," he said.

But as we explained last year, the legal clinic is something of a startup itself.

The model involves Stohs supervising third-year law students as they practice legal work for real clients across Nebraska, forming corporations, LLCs and other entities; negotiating and drafting contracts and leases; counseling clients regarding financing issues; protecting trademarks and other intellectual property; and offering advice in other areas like employment law.

Now nearing the end of its fourth session, Stohs said, the marketplace has proven the idea's a good one.

With almost 32 alumni [eight students per session], the clinic has served 33 clients to date.

Of those, Stohs said Silicon Prairie-esque tech startups have chalked up "a strong minority," including 2014 NMotion accelerator participant Pixobot.

More traditional small businesses like a brewery and a snack foods business have formed an "equally strong" subset of clients, Stohs said.

"To the extent we can serve both of those constituencies, the better it's going to be for the state," Stohs said.

He also tries to balance between Omaha and Lincoln clients and those from more rural areas, where he's learned that his students are "really filing a void" for specialized legal services. As the spring semester draws to a close, another 47 prospective clients are on the waiting list, some of which have been waiting for a year.

"It's a problem in that we want to be able to serve them all," Stohs said. "We've barely scratched the surface of the scope of need for good legal advice throughout Nebraska."

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