The nine members bring a broad range of experience and insight in the entrepreneurial sector to their advisory roles.
“From the beginning, our thoughts have been that for the program to succeed and make the contributions we aspire it to make, we need the guidance and wisdom of successful entrepreneurs,” said James Cox, the Brainerd Currie Professor of Law who serves as factuly director of the Law & Entrepreneurship LLM program. “We are delighted that our advisory board members are not only willing to join our mission but are so enthusiastic and supportive of the program. We are on our way.”
Kip Frey, president and CEO of Zenph Sound Innovations, Inc., a music technology startup based in Research Triangle Park, serves as chair of the advisory board, in addition to co-teaching a class titled Law & Entrepreneurship. He has had a long career successfully running venture-backed companies, as a venture capitalpartner at Intersouth Partners, and as a lawyer; after specializing in intellectual property in private practice, Frey went in house at Turner Broadcasting System, where he also ran several business units. He discussed his involvement with the Law & Entrepreneurship LLM program with Duke Law Magazine.
DLM: In your view, what value does the Law & Entrepreneurship LLM program add to the Duke Law curriculum?
The world of startup companies, venture capital, and entrepreneurship broadly defined has become complex — and a little bit of a mystery to people. It’s hard to learn about this world in the context of the regular law school curriculum.. Hopefully … this program will provide people with a way to tap into that world much more quickly, much more efficiently, and with a much better prospect for a relevant outcome, career-wise, than simply graduating from Duke or any other law school and seeking to find that experience and that interaction with the community..
I think for certain types of students — and those students may be interested in representing entrepreneurial companies, being entrepreneurs themselves, working in corporations with entrepreneurial divisions or internal venture capital funds, or something like that — I think it offers a set of possibilities that go well beyond what a traditional law school experience can offer. .
DLM: You have worked as a lawyer, venture capitalist, and entrepreneur, and you have this 360-degree view of the sector. Can you list the top three things you think a lawyer should know if they plan to work with or for — or lead — fast growth companies?
The first one is — and it’s very hard to learn this in law school — that being an entrepreneur is an incredibly emotional experience. You spend every other day thinking that your idea or venture will never see the light of day, has no chance, and is the dumbest thing anybody ever tried. And on the [alternate] days, you think it is the greatest idea ever and are just filled with enthusiasm and hope and energy.
It’s very hard, I think, for lawyers — without having observed this particular phenomenon — to understand how to be effective in dealing with entrepreneurs, because that is part of the life. It’s part of the experience. And it needs to be firmly in the mind of the lawyer, because there will just be that kind of roller-coaster emotional element to the experience. They need to be ready to deal with it.
The second thing is that in entrepreneurial settings, unlike with more mature companies, there are a lot of things that have to be done at the same time, without the typical set of support systems that someone in larger corporate America has. An entrepreneur is busy trying to raise capital for his idea, trying to convince other people to join him in the venture, trying to convince first time, early-adopter customers to invest in his company through buying his product. So there are a lot of ways that a lawyer can be helpful to an entrepreneur in dealing with the creation and prioritization of these relationships and structures and opportunities, whereas often, in a more mature company, many of those things are basically in place and what you’re trying to do is improve things at the margins.
The third one is that lawyers who represent entrepreneurs really need to have a sense of how and when to help an entrepreneur [avoid] bad decisions. And because everything is new and untried and you’re kind of inventing yourself as you go, lawyers have to be very adept and subtle in saying ‘no’ or helping to say no to the bad ideas as well as supporting and making the good ideas happen. Lawyers are partners in this process, much like venture capitalists, much like early advisers to companies. And they are actually more a part of the substantive decision-making process of the entrepreneur. I think all of those things make it a little bit of a different experience.
DLM: What can students anticipate in the way of networking with advisory board members or venture capitalists and entrepreneurs?
… We have spent a lot of time discussing the fact that one very important measure of success for graduates of this program is how they are situated as they come out, and whether they are really ready to plug themselves into the entrepreneurial community. And so we’ve been very focused on making sure that we have a number of opportunities for the students to interact, not only with the members of the advisory board, but with a much larger network of lawyers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs — the entire spectrum of the entrepreneurial community — so that students will have a sense of confidence that they understand the landscape, and are able much more efficiently to insert themselves into this community at the level and place that they would like to when they graduate.
DLM: Why did you agree to chair the Alumni Advisory Board?
It offers the opportunity to be helpful in something that’s going to be a really great addition to the curriculum and to the program at the Law School. Bill Brown ’80 [who co-teaches Law and Entrepreneurship, as well as other core courses in the program], Andrew Foster [who serves as the program’s director and oversees its professionalism and practice components] and Jim Cox have done a great job in positioning this program and understanding a need that can be filled by the Law School that wasn’t being filled before. I think it’s an idea that will really excite the students and serve them very well.
Duke Law & Entrepreneurship LLM Alumni Advisory Board
Chair: Kip Frey ’85
President and Chief Executive Officer
Zenph Sound Innovations, Inc.
Robert Cochran ’74
Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Financial Security Assurance Holdings Ltd.
New York, N.Y.
Adrian Dollard ’95
Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer
San Francisco, Calif.
Raymond “Buck” Ferguson ’70
Part-owner, Seattle Mariners
Retired from Microsoft Inc.
John Forlines III ’82
Chairman and Chief Information Officer
Locust Valley, N.Y.
Winston Henderson ’96
Vice President and General Counsel
Surface Logix, Inc.
David Lamond ’06
Principal and Analyst
Artis Capital Management, LLC
San Francisco, Calif.
Darla Pomeroy ’91
Joan Siefert Rose
Council for Entrepreneurial Development