In January, the new Zell Entrepreneurship And Law (ZEAL) program, funded by the Institute’s co-benefactor Sam Zell, JD ’66, debuted at the U-M Law School, and in June, Erik Gordon, faculty advisor of the Wolverine Venture Fund, was named ZEAL’s first director. The program’s new Entrepreneurship Clinic now offers U-M student entrepreneurs free legal counsel on structuring start-up companies. It also creates entrepreneurial synergies that are resonating across the University campus.
“This is a major milestone, and we’re thrilled about it,” Faley says. “ZEAL is a wonderful opportunity for both business and law students to learn from each other.” Through the Entrepreneurship Clinic, law students, working under the supervision of faculty who are experienced attorneys, learn to counsel new businesses about corporate and LLC structure, partnership agreements, intellectual-property assignments, and other matters. Student entrepreneurs from the Ross School and the broader U-M entrepreneurial community, in turn, gain a deeper understanding of the legal issues and documentation involved in new-venture formation and venture-capital investments.
“By working together, the Zell Lurie Institute and ZEAL are creating a powerhouse of entrepreneurship that strengthens the University’s entrepreneurial ecology,” says Gordon, whose personal background spans law and business. “This collaboration ensures student entrepreneurs receive proper legal guidance at the very beginning of new-venture creation and avoid a tangle of legal complications down the road. The partnership also opens a new avenue for law students who want to become involved in entrepreneurship.”
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