Law School, Chicago Innovation Exchange, and Perkins Coie Announce New Innovation Clinic to Provide Legal Guidance for Start-ups

Innovation workspace

Entrepreneurs at the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE) will now be able to turn to the Innovation Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School for legal guidance, thanks to a partnership between the CIE, the Law School, and law firm Perkins Coie. The organizations announced today that they have teamed up to create the new legal clinic, which will offer start-ups legal advice and helpful resources, and provide a workshop series for local entrepreneurs.

The Innovation Clinic will offer entrepreneurs in the CIE’s Business Incubator program assistance with legal issues common to start-ups, such as incorporation, founder’s agreements, intellectual property licensing, employment agreements, and contracts. The clinic will be staffed by UChicago Law students, who will work directly with clients and gain experience in two rapidly expanding fields of law – technology and start-up.

Salen Churi, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, has been named the inaugural Bluhm-Helfand Director of the Innovation Clinic, and will direct the student teams collaborating with the entrepreneurs. Attorneys at Perkins Coie will contribute to the Innovation Clinic by offering specialized subject-matter expertise to law students in their work with CIE startups. Perkins Coie attorneys will also offer a workshop series, which will be open to the public, aimed at helping entrepreneurs approach common legal issues.

“Legal guidance provides entrepreneurs with the stable footing they need during a company’s early growth stages,” according to Perkins Coie partner, Steve Ducommun. “Through this partnership, we will be able to foster great ideas and support new business growth in Chicago, while building long-term relationships with the region’s most promising entrepreneurs.” 

“Our entrepreneurs will benefit from Perkins Coie’s tremendous expertise and resources as a longtime industry leader in the West Coast start-up space,” says John Flavin, executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange. “This clinic also strengthens our relationship with the University of Chicago’s world-class Law School, home to some of the best clinical faculty and most accomplished law students in the country.”

The founding director of the clinic, Salen Churi, teaches courses on entrepreneurship law at UChicago Law School, and has substantial experience working with both students and entrepreneurs given his most recent position as Associate Director of the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the UChicago Law School. A graduate of the Law School, Churi previously practiced corporate law, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and technology transactions.

“Our students have expressed a great deal of interest in working with emerging companies, and the Innovation Clinic will give them practical experience with startup clients that will prepare them for success in this growing field,” said Churi. “The CIE is driving explosive growth, and I am excited to offer our students the opportunity to contribute to that.”

The Innovation Clinic is just one in a series of new resources available to the CIE’s members, alongside the recently-launched CIE Fab Lab, a digital fabrication and 3D-prototyping workshop.

About The University of Chicago Law School
The University of Chicago Law School has been one of the most selective and influential hubs of legal education since its foundation in 1902. The Law School is especially revered for its contribution to the field of law and economics, and boasts launching one of the most celebrated economists of all time, Nobel-prize-winning Ronald Coase. Its decorated faculty is comprised of leading interdisciplinary scholars, including three sitting judges from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Law School’s clinical program provides students with an opportunity to learn effective advocacy skills, professional ethics, and the effect of legal institutions on low-income clients and disadvantaged groups.

About the Chicago Innovation Exchange
The Chicago Innovation Exchange at the University of Chicago fosters innovation and commercialization through shared space, connections, and collaboration. The CIE provides resources for students, faculty and local South Side community members as they advance their discoveries and ideas toward the marketplace. The CIE also manages the University of Chicago’s Innovation Fund, which invests in early business development and proof-of-concept work for ventures in a range of areas and helps UChicago faculty, students and staff translate scientific discoveries into scalable solutions to difficult societal problems. Bringing together the University’s distinctive strengths in research and resources from a network of world-class entrepreneurship programs, the CIE connects emerging entrepreneurs with Chicago’s broader innovation ecosystem and helps drive the creation of new businesses, jobs, and economic activity in the city and surrounding region.

About Perkins Coie
Perkins Coie is an international law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 19 offices across the United States and Asia. It is ranked number 42 on the Am Law 100 list and has been listed on FORTUNE Magazine’s "100 Best Places to Work For" for the past 13 years.  Clients of Perkins Coie range from FORTUNE 100 companies to independent startups, as well as public and not-for-profit organizations. Primary practice areas include Intellectual Property, Emerging Companies and Venture Capital, Labor and Employment, Corporate Governance and Securities, Investigations and White Collar Defense, and Products Liability. While Perkins Coie is one of the oldest and largest law firms headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, it has a a full service office in Chicago with nearly 120 lawyers serving clients in a number of industry sectors, including startups and technology, retail, real estate, hotels and leisure, finance, food and beverage, government relations and healthcare.