UChicago Law and Chicago Innovation Exchange launch the Innovation Clinic (Credit: CIE)
UChicago Law and Chicago Innovation Exchange launch the Innovation Clinic (Credit: CIE)

University of Chicago’s law school, the Chicago Innovation Exchange, and West Coast law firm Perkins Coie are teaming up to give legal assistance to CIE businesses and get law students experience in the startup field.

It’s called the Innovation Clinic. Announced Tuesday, the new program will set up a designated center where entrepreneurs from CIE can consult with law students. In return, students will get specialized guidance from Perkins Coie on the intersection of law, tech, and startups. Salen Churi, an assistant clinical professor of law at UChicago, will direct student teams in the Innovation Clinic.

“Legal guidance provides entrepreneurs with the stable footing they need during a company’s early growth stages,” said Perkins Coie partner, Steve Ducommun. “Through this partnership, we will be able to foster great ideas and support new business growth in Chicago, while building long-term relationships with the region’s most promising entrepreneurs.”

Law students will provide personal help as well as workshops in topics such as incorporation, founder’s agreements, intellectual property licensing, and contracts. They’ll be guided by lawyers at Perkins Coie, a Seattle-based international law firm that has previously worked with Amazon, Twitter, Google, and Craigslist.

“Our entrepreneurs will benefit from Perkins Coie’s tremendous expertise and resources as a longtime industry leader in the West Coast start-up space,” added John Flavin, executive director of the CIE.

While the desire for top-notch resources is obvious from the startup side, this clinic also came about due to student interest, said Churi, who previously directed the entrepreneurship clinic at the law school. “Our students have expressed a great deal of interest in working with emerging companies, and the Innovation Clinic will give them practical experience with startup clients that will prepare them for success in this growing field,” he said.

This isn’t the first Chicago law school that’s looking to better train its students in the tech and startup space. Part of Northwestern (now Pritzker) Law’s recent historic $100 million gift went to permanently endowing the school’s entrepreneurship center and masters in law program for STEM professionals. Recently IIT launched a masters degree for STEM professionals that also draws from their law school.