The clinic recently signed an agreement with Legal Aid of West Virginia to collaborate on the West Side Economic Development Project in the state capital.
The project is designed to increase the capabilities of local businesses, community organizations, nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurs. Law students in the clinic will produce legal education materials to assist the program’s economic development efforts.
“Small businesses and community organizations are an important part of the economic backbone of the state,” said Priya Baskaran, clinic director. “Our plan for this pilot project is to create a healthy system of legal services to support entrepreneurs and organizations, helping communities build wealth from within.”
Community leaders and clinic representative are conducting a focus group on November 18 to identify common legal obstacles faced by West Side businesses and organizations.
“This project must be driven by the community,” Baskaran explained. “We can create generic materials that would be useful, but we can be even more effective if we first get a sense of the types of businesses people actually want to start. We need to know what the entrepreneurship environment is in that area so we can build our services accordingly.”
Based on the information gathered from the focus group, WVU law students in the clinic will create multi-media legal resources such as videos, how-to guides and checklists that will be available online.
Topics these resources will address include licensing, forming a limited liability company, qualifying for non-profit status, protecting intellectual property, and how to legally open specific types of businesses.
In support of its partnership with the clinic, Legal Aid of West Virginia has hired Harden Scragg to be the inaugural Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic Fellow. A West Side-native, Harden will serve as the on-site project coordinator, living and working in the neighborhood to provide direct legal services to entrepreneurs and community organizers. He is a 2005 graduate of the WVU College of Law.
Future additional funding may allow West Side Economic Development Project to expand and replicate the model in other communities throughout the state, says Baskaran. That could include hiring additional fellows to do similar work around the state.
CONTACT: James Jolly, College of Law
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