Posted: Mar 17, 2017

On March 17, 2017, ACC SoCal attorneys participated in a pro bono Small Business Legal Clinic at the University of Irvine School of Law, co-sponsored by ACC SoCal, Rutan & Tucker, LLP and the Public Law Center. ACC members partnered with attorneys from Rutan & Tucker as well as UCI law students to review a variety of issues with start-up business clients recruited by the Public Law Center. The attorneys and students were given CLE training by Rutan & Tucker attorneys on a variety of topics ranging from choice of entity, real estate, employment, websites and intellectual property.

According to Sarah Efthymiou, Senior Lead Staff Attorney, Community Organizations Legal Assistance Project at the Public Law Center, the clinic was a success, serving fifteen fortunate entrepreneurs. There were thirty more clients on the waiting list so it appears there is an ongoing need for this type of clinic. One small business client shared that "the clinic exceeded expectations - the attorneys took such an interest in my business and didn't rush me as I described what we do and the legal issues we're facing." Another commented “…your colleagues really made my day with providing vital info and help in the areas we needed it most.”

A highlight of the day was a visit by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UCI School of Law, who thanked the participants and remarked that clinics such as this one helped further the School’s focus on having its students participate in pro bono and clinic settings.

The ACC attorneys were pleased to be able to use their business skills in a pro bono setting. Monica A. Johnson, Assistant General Counsel at Ventura Foods said “The opportunity to provide pro bono legal assistance was great! I enjoyed learning about my clients’ businesses and seeing how we could help them get their businesses off the ground and running. It was especially great to have all three Ventura Foods’ attorneys participate as we continue to grow our company pro bono program too!”

Maru Johansen, Foreign Representative and Legal Counsel for Mexicana Airlines said “Events like the small business clinic provides the opportunity to counsel individuals who are enthusiastic about a new project that if successful will benefit our community. Using my experience and knowledge to be part of those projects is very rewarding. The other positive experience was the mentorship that we provided to the students working with us that day. As the student in my group rightly pointed out, they saw how several areas of law must be considered for a small business operation.”

Thank you to all the ACC attorneys who took time out of their busy days to give much needed help to local small business owners, as well as to Rutan & Tucker for participating and providing the training as well as lunch, to Sarah Efthymiou of the Public Law Center, and to Anna Davis, Pro Bono Director at UCI School of Law and the students who helped make the clinic a success.

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