San Diego entrepreneurs rely on free USD legal clinic


Author: Timothy Sandefur

PLF friend Prof. Donna Matias oversees the entrepreneurship law clinic at the University of San Diego, where she helps small businesses navigate the sometimes bewildering restrictions that government imposes on business. Today's San Diego Union-Tribune has a profile of her work here:

The USD legal clinic is among just two in Southern California (the other is at the University of Southern California) that help entrepreneurs with their businesses.

It limits its services to low- and moderate-income business owners in San Diego County despite requests from business owners in Los Angeles and Orange counties, said Donna Matias, the clinic’s director.

“We’re a San Diego school and we want to help people in our community,” she said.

The USD legal clinic doesn’t handle lawsuits, focusing more on “transactional” law such as drafting contracts, forming corporations and handling copyright issues. It was established to serve the needs of students who aim to be corporate lawyers, not litigators.

The clinic has closed 526 cases in the 10 years since it was established. It has assisted a wide variety of businesses, from pet sitting companies to restaurants and breweries, as well as business consultants, hairdressers and plumbers.

Many business owners go without legal advice because of the cost, which can be prohibitive for a struggling entrepreneur. The average billing rate for attorneys is $284 per hour…. Business owners seeking legal advice at USD need to submit financial documents to prove they need the help.

Most law schools don’t offer legal clinics for entrepreneurs….

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