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Local Businesses Receive Free Legal Advice at ECDC/Duke Energy Event

For the third year running, UC Law’s own Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) teamed up with the Duke Energy Law Department in a pro bono event designed to share free legal advice.  On Thursday, October 3, 2013, this event had the atrium of the law school alive and buzzing, with 46 total participants receiving legal advice over the course of four hours. 

The ECDC began its clinic program in January 2011, and has helped approximately 50 clients on about 150 legal matters to date.  Professor Lewis Goldfarb, the director of the ECDC, said that the pro bono event was the result of a phone call with Melissa Feldmeier at Duke Energy.  “Melissa was looking to have the Law Department involved in pro bono work, and together with the ECDC, this annual free legal advice event was born,” he said.  The event pairs law students with participating attorneys so that they can observe one-on-one attorney-client interaction; students also assist attorneys as needed (perhaps researching information on the computer); and best of all, it provides a networking opportunity.

This year there were 14 students assisting the 17 volunteering attorneys.  “The pro bono event was an incredible opportunity,” said Meredith Hughes ‘14, a ECDC intern.  “The event helped meet two needs: one, for law students to work with experienced area attorneys and observe a real client seeking advice outside a classroom setting; and two: for local small businesses to receive much needed legal advice to grow and enhance their business and the business community in Cincinnati.”

Small Businesses Benefit at ECDC Event

A wide range of businesses participated in the event, both by walk-in and appointment, including businesses in real estate, childcare, mental health, therapeutic massage, fashion design, and cupcakes, among others.  Each business received up to a 30-minute consultation on various legal issues:  contracts, copyrights, and labor and employment just to name a few.  “Overall, it was a rewarding experience,” offered Rebecca Rhoda ‘14, another law student with the ECDC.  “The attorneys volunteering at the event did a wonderful job managing client concerns and asking pertinent questions to identify the best way to approach the client’s legal issues, which is a focus of interns in the ECDC.”

“It was a very successful event,” said Professor Goldfarb.  “I think it demonstrated how public-private partnerships, like ours with Duke Energy, can contribute significantly to the betterment of our communities.”  The ECDC currently is partnered with Bad Girl Ventures, which helps women entrepreneurs in Cincinnati and across Ohio, and also with the Bearcat Launchpad, which encourages and helps entrepreneurs in the UC community.

ECDC Moves Forward

Upcoming for the ECDC is the “University Business Slam” with Cintrifuse.  This event will see students from various universities working as teams to analyze real business problems and to propose countermeasures. 

If you’d like to know more about ECDC or any upcoming event, contact them at 513-556-0280, and by email at ecdc@uc.edu.

Author: Eric Munas ‘15

*Photos from event.