Community Leaders Partner to Support Student Startups

Provides students with legal advice and services

leap logo

The Lavin Entrepreneur Advocacy Program (LEAP) is a collaboration between the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and key partners, the University of San Diego School of Law’s Entrepreneur Clinic and Duane Morris LLP, whose attorneys provide legal assistance for Lavin Entrepreneur students and their startup businesses. Students in the program are offered free workshops as well as the ability to connect with USD law students, along with legal mentors and legal advisors from Duane Morris who provide key advice on topics such as equity, ownership, intellectual property, employer and employee relationships, tax entities, finances and much more. LEAP is one of the first business school/law school/legal firm partnerships of its kind in the region that combines student learning experiences with those of practicing attorneys.

 The LEAP program consists of four key components as follows:

  • Legal Workshops: Each year, Duane Morris attorneys conduct a legal workshop on campus for those students interested in starting their own company either now or at some point in the future. Topics covered during these workshops include (but are not limited to) taxes, hiring and dealing with employees, protecting intellectual property and developing partnership agreements
  • The USD Entrepreneurship Law Clinic: On a rolling basis, students who are creating companies can engage with law students working at the USD Entrepreneurship clinic. The law students can assist our Lavin Entrepreneur students with basic legal research types of activities and assistance with limited legal filings.
  • The Duane Morris LLP Clinic: Once per semester, Duane Morris opens up their offices for a few hours in the afternoon to meet with our Lavin Entrepreneur students. Through this program, students have the opportunity to sit down in a private session with one (or more) specialist attorneys plus a USD Law student to go over very specific questions that the student might have. This is a great way for our students to learn how to work with an attorney in setting up a business on a strong legal foundation.
  • Duane Morris Pro-bono Legal Services: In very limited cases, the Duane Morris attorneys will evaluate if they can take on the responsibility of handling a student’s legal affairs and challenges. These decisions are made on a case by case basis.

USD School of Law Entrepreneurship Clinic

USD School of Law’s Legal Clinic students provide legal services for various client constituencies. The Entrepreneurship Clinic, which is one of ten client-service clinics at USD’s School of Law, provides transactional legal services targeting high technology business startups and other emerging companies. Law interns are trained to understand the legal services requested and required by entrepreneurs such as the ones in the Lavin Entrepreneurship program. "This is an exciting partnership to foster entrepreneurship in San Diego," said Stephen Ferruolo, dean of USD School of Law. "It demonstrates the types of collaborations that have made San Diego so vibrant a center of innovation. As a former startup attorney, I know the value of pairing lawyers with entrepreneurs. As dean, I am pleased to be able to work closely with my colleagues at SDSU's Lavin Entrepreneurship Center."

Duane Morris LLP

Duane Morris LLP is an international law firm with more than 700 attorneys scattered all around the world. The attorneys located in the San Diego office offer legal services to businesses such as startup ventures, technology companies, manufacturers, pharmaceutical and medical companies, financial institutions, financial fiduciaries, real estate developers and educational institutions. “As a longtime board member of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, I felt this was a tremendous opportunity for us to support startups as a firm and individually,” said Duane Morris partner Michelle Hon Donovan. “Not only is it a win for the students involved, but it allows our attorneys the chance to assist emerging ventures, which will have an incredibly positive impact on the San Diego community.”