Ben Winokur LLMLE ’14
What is your background?
As an undergraduate, I owned the laundry service on my campus for three years. This experience imbued me with a passion for entrepreneurship. During law school, I became increasingly interested in internet and technology innovation. This focus led me to work at an internet startup, where I was able to draw on my legal and entrepreneurial backgrounds as general counsel and strategic project manager.
Why did you decide to pursue an LLM in Law and Entrepreneurship?
In law school, I struggled to find courses that were designed to build both the business and legal skills necessary to work with early stage companies. In my year working at a startup, I realized that the pace and chaos of building a company required more specialization and a greater understanding of the business and legal climates faced by entrepreneurs. The LLMLE program was narrowly tailored to teach the skills I need. It was a no brainer.
What is one thing that has surprised you since you've been at Duke?
The biggest surprise has been the openness of the entrepreneurial community in the Triangle. Meeting entrepreneurs, investors, and the other key members of the startup ecosystem has been incredibly rewarding. Even high profile founders and investors are happy to take a meeting and are excited about helping students.
What have you learned about the entrepreneurial community in Durham and The Research Triangle?
It's easy to think of this area as a small market, but the entrepreneurial ecosystem and commitment to fostering innovation in the area are strong. It seems that there has been a long term effort to create a supportive environment for young companies. From the American Underground's micro-offices for startups to The Startup Factory's accelerator, you find resources here that demonstrate a profound commitment to the value of entrepreneurship to a community.
What advice would you give to an incoming LLMLE student to make for a successful year?
Don't come just for the name brand on your resume. The value of the program isn't in the credential it bestows, but rather in the experience of meeting and interacting with entrepreneurs, investors, and lawyers who will help you shape your path into your career.