The Innovation Clinic enjoyed a very successful year advising its clients on a range of legal and regulatory matters arising in the course of their businesses. This year, the Innovation Clinic represented start-up clients from across the University, including companies founded by faculty in other graduate programs, Innovation Fund and New Venture Challenge finalists, and companies founded by current students at the Law School, the Booth School of Business and the undergraduate program. The Innovation Clinic also represented start-up clients outside of the University ecosystem that came to the Innovation Clinic by word of mouth or that were founded by alumni of the University or one of its graduate programs. The Innovation Clinic gave this year’s students the opportunity to represent clients in a wide array of industry verticals. Students provided legal services to entities in digital advertising, office services, social media, manufacturing and industrial products, e-learning, beauty and cosmetics, medical devices, retail, sports, and blockchain, among others.
In addition to its start-up clients, the Innovation Clinic also advised venture capital firms both in Chicago and elsewhere in the United States as to current regulatory issues implicating their portfolio companies and potential investment opportunities. These projects gave students the opportunity to understand how regulatory changes and barriers impact a venture capitalist’s decision of whether to invest in an entity, and how venture capitalists handicap the risk associated with such regulatory developments (or lack thereof).
The Innovation Clinic is grateful to all of its clients for continuing to provide its students with challenging, high-quality legal work that allows students to work hand-in-hand with CEOs and managing partners of investment firms in tackling their cutting edge structuring and legal issues. Students this year gained invaluable exposure into the mindset of an entrepreneur and common inflection points for start-ups and venture capital firms, equipping these students to be highly effective advocates and partners for future clients immediately on entry into their respective practices following graduation.
A representative sample of projects undertaken by the Innovation Clinic this year includes:
Contract Drafting and Negotiation
- Formed legal entities and drafted initial, or revised existing, founders’ or operating agreements, or bylaws, for several clients, including consulting on structural decisions as to equity allocations, voting rights, distributions and contributions, and drafting language to address those considerations
- Prepared equity incentive plans and subscription agreements, and negotiated and documented a founder buyout
- Prepared privacy policies and terms of service for new social media apps and online retailers
- Drafted forms of independent contractor agreements, sponsorship agreements, resale agreements and non-disclosure agreements
Policy and Regulatory Research
- Researched and prepared memoranda for clients regarding the European General Data Privacy Regulation and made recommendations as to best practices for compliance
- Researched and prepared memoranda regarding the application of federal and state securities laws, as well as FinCEN regulations, to companies in nascent industries, including with respect to initial coin offerings
- Advised clients as to employee misclassification risk and best practices in structuring independent contractor relationships
- Advised clients as to applicability of newly-introduced tariffs on goods imported from China and Mexico
- Advised clients as to structuring considerations for Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds
- Presented at the Chain Reaction Innovations Incubator at Argonne National Laboratories, discussing intellectual property considerations for start-ups, non-disclosure agreements and choice of entity and formation concerns
- Assisted clients desiring to qualify to do business in different states
- Assisted clients in obtaining d/b/a names
We are again grateful to our clients for the success we enjoyed in 2018-2019 and look forward to another exciting and productive year in 2019-2020!