Course Information

Course Description: Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic

  • Taught by Heather Way and Frances Leos Martinez
  • 6 credits (pass/fail) — offered Fall, Spring
  • The Clinic is open to students who have completed their first two semesters, including LLM students

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CLINIC – 6 credits (application required)

Take your transactional lawyering skills to the next level with the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic. The ECDC provides students with a unique opportunity to develop business law and problem-solving skills while representing entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and community groups.

Clinic students with members of the Community and Family Historical Preservation Association

Through hands-on interactions, ECDC assist their clients with a broad variety of transactional business law matters, including:

Fall 2019 Students
  • assisting businesses with choice of entity decisions
  • forming for-profit and nonprofit entities
  • applying to the IRS for tax-exempt status
  • drafting and negotiating contracts
  • providing legal advice to nonprofit boards of directors and staff
  • drafting lending and real estate documents
  • assisting with intellectual property matters

In addition to the development and honing of transactional skills, the Clinic also provides interested students with the opportunity to represent clients on public policy issues impacting small businesses and community organizations. Prior policy projects have included:

  • drafting state legislative reforms to assist low-income homeowners access property tax exemptions,
  • testifying before local and state legislative bodies, and
  • advising clients on regulatory barriers.

Through community tours, classes, and cases, clinic students also learn about Austin’s community development challenges and how they as attorneys can use their transactional lawyering skillset to make an impact in their communities.

Clinic students touring the North Lamar Mobile Home Park with members of the newly formed Asociación de Residentes North Lamar Corporation

Clinic students learn how to represent their clients through clinic classes, weekly team meetings with their clinic supervisor, and independent research and initiative. The Clinic’s weekly classes emphasize the applicable substantive law, the larger social and theoretical context of the Clinic’s work, and the development of practical lawyering skills including:

  • interviewing
  • counseling
  • negotiating
  • contract drafting
  • public speaking

The Clinic class meets on Monday afternoons from 2:15-4:15 pm (two classes run until 5:15 pm), and also on Thursday mornings from 9:10 to 10:00 am for case rounds. There is a mandatory orientation class on the first Friday of the semester, from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. The Clinic is a significant time commitment. Each clinic team typically represents two to three clients, and students are expected to devote an average of 14 hours of week on casework, along with an additional 3-5 hours for class time and assignments. There are no prerequisites for this clinic, although a background in business law (such as business associations, real estate, or tax law) or policy work will come in handy.

Clinic student Allison Schmitz consulting with clients

Enrollment is by application only. Students are encouraged to apply for the Clinic during early registration, as the Clinic fills up quickly. For deadlines and other application details, see the Texas Law Clinical Program’s Application Information. Students may request to be placed on a waiting list if space is unavailable during registration.

Please note: Students may not enroll in both the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic and the Texas Venture Labs at McCombs School of Business concurrently given the time commitments of these two programs.

To apply for the Clinic, please submit the online application, available on the UT Law Clinical Education homepage. For additional information, you may contact the Clinic Director, Heather K. Way (hway@law.utexas.edu, 512-232-1210), or the Clinic Administrator, Sarah Beach (sbeach@law.utexas.edu, 512-232-1564).