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Michigan law students help fledgling businesses

Universities and colleges have long been known for their ability to incubate amazing ideas that eventually become successful business ventures. A new initiative at the University of Michigan is allowing some faculty and students to receive additional support while they look to start their own companies.

The program, which is provided through the school's entrepreneurship clinic, provides free legal advice to university-affiliated individuals who are looking for business help. The clinic is also designed to provide additional assistance for students who are looking to launch their own startups in Michigan and other locations.

Experts say many new business owners are likely to fall into legal and financial pitfalls, largely because they understand their subject area but are not well-versed in business principles. Students working in the clinic are primarily law students who provide the free advice to their fellow schoolmates Law students say they benefit from the program because it provides them with real-world experience while allowing them to continue their academic pursuits.

Guidance experts at the facility report that many recent graduates and students have not held full-time business jobs, so they are unfamiliar with many procedural requirements involved in starting an independent business. Both legal and non-legal issues are addressed at the center, and workers there say their clients represent a cross-section of industries. Bicycle builders, tech firms and all other manner of businesses reach out to the center to receive advice.

Much of the information provided at the center focuses on entity formation and intellectual property rights, both of which can be tricky to navigate in the modern business world. Some of the program's clients have even filed for patents, a major step toward business development and success.

Every business owner can use assistance with legal and financial issues from time to time. Even if you are not a university student or faculty member, you should consider asking questions of your financial adviser and lawyer to make sure you are complying with ethical and regulatory guidelines.

Source: Ann, "U-M Law School joins the entrepreneurship game with free legal clinic for student startup," Ben Freed, Jan. 6, 2013.

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