The Law & Business Clinic at the Ted Rogers School of Management provides free legal services in a variety of business law matters to entrepreneurs and small businesses that cannot afford to retain a lawyer. It also offers third and fourth year students majoring in Law and Business the opportunity to develop essential skills and gain valuable practical experience and exposure to the legal profession.
Under the close supervision of lawyers from Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, Miller Thomson LLP, Owens Wright LLP and Ridout & Maybee LLP, Professor Omar Ha-Redeye and Academic Director Dr. Pnina Alon-Shenker, students are able to gain “hands-on” experience as they assist clients with business law matters such as incorporation, drafting corporate documents, reviewing commercial contracts, regulatory compliance, intellectual property and employment law issues.
Here is what a few students had to say about their experience working in the Law & Business Clinic this past year:
The Law & Business Clinic is a one-of-kind, revolutionary initiative. Truthfully, when I was in high school and deciding which university to attend, this Clinic was one of the deciding factors that brought me to the Ted Rogers School of Management nearly four years ago.
Legal clinics are a unique opportunity to provide legal services to underserved communities, while also developing practical skills that are transferable to the workplace. They are typically only found in Law schools, however, as volunteers require an understanding of the spirit and letter of the law. But with the Ted Rogers School being the innovator it is, the Law & Business Clinic was introduced to provide the same opportunity to undergraduate Law and Business students since they have a basic understanding of the law by the time they reach their senior years as well.
As a volunteer with the Clinic, much of my work focused on assisting my client – a young and passionate entrepreneur – with their business-related legal matters. Students in the Clinic work on deliverables such as drafting legal research memorandums or reviewing shareholder and partnership agreements. Personally, I had the opportunity to draft a commercial services agreement geared towards SaaS (Software as a Service) products, a non-disclosure agreement and an independent contractor agreement, to name a few.
Throughout this process I gained practical skills such as contract and memo drafting, but also experience in relationship-building with clients. I was responsible for meeting with my client on a regular basis along with my supervising lawyers and clinical team members, providing them with an update on our progress and answering any questions to remove blockers on our file. As well, I was regularly communicating with our supervising lawyers over email and conference calls, which meant I quickly learned how to communicate effectively and professionally in a work environment. All of the skills I gained working at the Law & Business Clinic will definitely help me in whatever career path I find myself in – whether that be in the law, or something else entirely.
During my final two terms as a Law and Business major, I had the opportunity to work at the Law & Business Clinic. Under the supervision of three lawyers at Miller Thomson LLP, I completed various deliverables, including preparing and reviewing legal documents and memorandums for a small business entrepreneur.
Throughout my experience, I applied theoretical knowledge acquired in class to real-life clients, gaining practical experience with a unique insight into the legal profession. Apart from completing legal deliverables, my responsibilities included coordinating the client process. My team members and I organized the entire client relationship from signing the retainer agreement to sending closing letters.
Working collaboratively with my supervising lawyers from beginning to end allowed me to learn a tremendous amount of legal knowledge compared to other classes I have taken. However, one of the key takeaways from participating in the Clinic was practicing professional communication skills. Since most of our communication occurred over e-mail, ensuring efficient contact with both clients and lawyers was vital in meeting deadlines and developing high-quality work.
The Clinic also taught me the importance of pro bono legal clinics and their role in tackling access to justice issues in our communities. Seeing the impact the Law & Business Clinic has on the community firsthand was a rewarding experience that deepened my appreciation for legal clinics. I will continue to look for opportunities to do pro bono work with small businesses, entrepreneurs and lower-income individuals throughout my career.
Altogether, the Law & Business Clinic was a fantastic conclusion to my undergrad and allowed me to make many cherished professional connections. My team members, Professor Omar Ha-Redeye and my supervising lawyers at Miller Thomson LLP made my Clinic experience a highlight of my undergraduate career. I will take the experiences, skills and professional connections I gained through the Clinic throughout all my future endeavours.
Liaising with lawyers and clients polished my interpersonal and communication skills. Client interviews helped me to assess the needs and plan for deliverables. The expert and compassionate supervision by the course lead and the lawyers at the clinic helped me develop an ability to carry out complex tasks within specified windows of time. My time at the Clinic also helped me to forge wonderful connections with the faculty, lawyers, peers and clients, which I value greatly and intend to nurture in the future.
The responsibilities at the Law & Business Clinic also exposed me to the provision of pro bono legal services to clients under the supervision of lawyers for a variety of business-related legal requirements. It has inspired me to take up pro bono or voluntary service provision in my future career.
The Law & Business Clinic really provided me with an irreplaceable experience as a university student. In this Clinic setting, I learned how to apply my knowledge in a practical way through legal research, drafting contracts and legal memorandums, and how to effectively communicate with pro bono lawyers and clients. I got to work alongside and learn from some brilliant peers, while even gaining some new friends. The pandemic didn’t stop us students from putting in our best efforts and making valuable connections.
The most rewarding part of this experience is being able feel like a critical part of helping the client’s business succeed, in a pro bono setting. It really changed my mindset and gave me some insight of what I want to do as I am about to graduate soon. The only thing I wished I got more of is perhaps another semester of this Clinic!