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Partnership Between Darden School of Business, UVA Law School Offers Entrepreneurs Pro Bono Legal Assistance

uvadardenVentures taking part in the Darden Business Incubator at UVA’s Darden School of Business i.Lab have the added advantage of pro bono legal counsel thanks to an innovative partnership with the University of Virginia School of Law, the Law School reported yesterday.

As part of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, entrepreneurs taking part in Darden’s Incubator work directly with law students to create legal plans and handle necessary paperwork for their new ventures. In this win-win arrangement, the law students benefit from practical, hands-on training on how to advise startup companies and draft basic corporate documentation.

Attorney/entrepreneur Rob C. Masri, a 1996 UVA Law School graduate, directs the clinic. “Entrepreneurs are the only people in the world who are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid having to work 40 hours a week,” Masri quipped. He launched the clinic in part to help law students develop equivalent passion for the area of the law that pertains to entrepreneurship.

An experienced corporate attorney, Masri developed a particular interest and expertise in this legal arena as part of his own entrepreneurial ventures. In 2011, he raised $4.25 million to fund his own startup, Cardagin Networks Inc., a mobile platform that helps businesses manage customer loyalty and rewards programs.   

Masri directs students in the law clinic as part of a semester-long class he teaches along with lecturer Clare Lewis, a 2011 Law School graduate and associate at McGuireWoods specializing in venture capital, and instructor Pamela Rosen, an associate at Williams Mullen.

The clinic helps participating law students develop “hard, tangible skills they can use, no matter what type of practice they begin after law school,” Rosen says. Law students and business students are matched based on similar areas of interest or expertise.

Free legal counsel is just one of the perks of participation in Darden’s Business Incubator. Each year, between 12 and 24 startups are selected to take part. In addition to the legal consultation, selected ventures also receive a stipend, incubator space and other resources, including assistance with sales and marketing.

Learn more about the UVA’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic. Learn more about Darden’s Business Incubator.