While participating in Duke's Community Enterprise Clinic, I had the pleasure of helping small business owners and non-profit executives solve their real-world problems. The Clinic exposed me to many substantive areas of business law, and also presented me with the opportunity to hone my legal writing and client interviewing skills.
My representation of one particular small business owner is worthy of mention, for two reasons. First, it gave me the opportunity to interact with a single client for the entire semester. As a result, we developed a working relationship and were able to meet regularly to discuss all aspects of his business. Armed with the “big picture” of his business, I was able to give him the most appropriate legal advice at the right times. For instance, he initially sought out the Clinic's assistance to help him create a Limited Liability Company ( LLC). However, after learning more about his strained relationship with a potential material supplier, I suggested that he delay the LLC creation until he was certain that he could work with the material supplier moving forward. He followed this recommendation and, fortunately, smoothed out the relationship with the supplier before expending any financial resources to create the LLC.
Second, my engagement with this client gave me the opportunity to offer not only legal advice, but also successful strategies for operating his business. Having worked in industry for several years before attending law school, I developed a good understanding of business operations. Because the client appreciated the value of the knowledge that came with my background, he often sought my on non-legal business matters. In one instance, for example, I counseled him on successful supplier price negotiation techniques.
Few things in law school offer this type of unique experience. As a result, the Community Enterprise Clinic has been an invaluable aspect of my legal education at Duke. The Clinic provides a great springboard into the legal profession. I highly recommend the Clinic to any student seeking to apply their classroom learning in a hands-on environment.