Dozens of guests at a February celebration toasted Elon Law’s downtown Greensboro legal resource for aspiring nonprofit founders and small business owners.
Since its launch in 2014, Elon University School of Law’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic has assisted members of the community with any number of legal requirements to open a commercial enterprise or establish a nonprofit organization.
Who’s been helped by the Elon Law students who grew their practice skills through clinical work?
There’s the virtual funeral home service. A comedian and podcasters. Investment advisors, counselors, fitness instructors, and yoga trainers. On the list of more than 500 clients, you’ll also find jewelry designers, moving services, food companies, app developers, and even an artificial baby doll manufacturer.
The list goes on.
Some of those clients, and some of the former students now succeeding in their legal careers, returned to Greensboro on February 9, 2024, for an anniversary reception inside the downtown facility where the clinic annually serves dozens of aspiring nonprofit founders and small business owners.
The celebration offered Associate Professor John Flynn an opportunity to acknowledge and thank community partnerships whose “collaboration and referrals have fueled our success” in the clinic he directs. Supporters have included:
- The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship (Sam Funchess, Clay Howard, and Lisa Hazlett)
- The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce’s LaunchLab Program (Lou Anne Flanders-Stec, Kaitlyn Conner, and Zoe Ott)
- Elon University’s Doherty Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (Alyssa Martina)
- SCORE (Gary Simmons and, previously, Nat Bernstein)
- The Small Business Technology Development Center (Clay Howard)
- UNC Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University, and GTCC
- Bert Andia with Higgins Benjamin
- Jack Hicks with Womble Bond Dickinson
- Kelly Robinson of Maccord Mason
- Ashleigh Johnson with Maynard Nexsen
- The Greensboro legal community
- Elon Law faculty, staff, and administrators, including Professor Andy Haile, Dean Emeritx Luke Bierman, and the late Dean Emeritus George R. Johnson, Jr.
“To all of you,” Flynn said, “your belief in our mission has made all the difference.”
Two clients offered reflections of the role played by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic in bringing to life their nonprofit and commercial visions.
Lisa McMillan, founder of Turning Everything Around, Inc.: “Elon’s business clinic really helped me … with all the stuff that keeps you legitimate. And you need legitimacy! Because I’m a habitual rule follower, I really wanted to be legitimate, and I didn’t have the finances to pay a lawyer. I did not have the acumen to develop it myself. That does matter. When people see you show up, and you don’t show up legitimate, they’re going to toss you to the side. Thank you for being here to provide this opportunity. You’re not just impacting me or the Turning Everything Around team, but people all over the world.”
Seth Hall of Hall Food Company, LLC (joined by his father, Dave): “We knew enough about starting a business to register with the Secretary of State, and to come up with a name, which was quite challenging, initially. But that was really about it. I started looking for resources to help new businesses that didn’t really have a lot of capital to answer some of the complicated questions that we would have. This is where I found the small business clinic.
“With the help of the business clinic over the past year, we’ve been able to properly structure our LLC. We created an operating agreement. We even applied for a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We would not have been able to do that without Elon Law. Our experience has been invaluable to us. It’s shown us a lot of things, helped us move forward, and the foundations that our legal team helped us build will move us forward, and we’re excited to see how far we’ll take this thing.”
What’s Next for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic
Elon Law Dean Zak Kramer shared a vision for the future of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic. Here’s part of what he expressed:
“This clinic is in the job of birthing dreams, trying to make those a reality, while helping students learn how to be lawyers … When we come back in a decade to talk about the clinic on its 20th anniversary, here’s the homework. We have to do even more good.
“I want Elon Law to always be doing more and to be doing better. I want us to grow and excel in our areas of excellence, and there is no question in my mind that this is an unbelievable place of excellence. This is a place that is doing exactly what our charge is to do – serve the community, foster innovation, and train our students to help people, to be good lawyers, and to make our community a better place. I think we’re doing that in a wonderful way.”