Venture Law Project: Free legal service for startups fills a need

07/20/2014 7:00 PM

07/21/2014 3:48 PM

A common challenge for startups is determining when and where to obtain legal services, as well as coming up with the bucks for the fees. But the consequences of not using a lawyer could be huge.

The Venture Law Project, a new service in South Florida, advises startups on business formation, filing requirements, drafting legal contracts, negotiating lease agreements, copyrights and trademarks, tax planning and related matters. Qualifying entrepreneurs have free access to training and legal materials, as well as workshops at partner law firms and local incubators.

“Failed startup businesses were seen all too often coming to Dade Legal Aid facing bankruptcy, foreclosure, family issues and debt crisis. We were inspired by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s commitment to entrepreneurs and engaged communities, and with the foundation’s support we launched the Venture Law Project as a free legal resource to local startups,” said Ashley Juchawski, an attorney who serves as the Venture Law Project’s staff attorney. “Taking a proactive approach, our goal is to help early-stage entrepreneurs get protection under the law and develop on a solid legal footing.”

Since January, the Venture Law Project has already provided free legal counsel and advice for more than 100 qualifying entrepreneurs and startups, said Juchawski, who recruits from Legal Aid’s network of attorneys willing to take startup cases pro bono.

The Venture Law Project also holds free workshops, including one at 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on July 30 at the Miami Entrepreneurship Center, 261 NE 1st St., Miami. The topic: Corporate Entity Formation. RSVP on Venture Law Project’s website: www.dadelegalaid.org/venture-law-project.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Venture Law Project can contact Juchawski at ajuchawski@dadelegalaid.org or 305-579-5733, ext. 2247.

Read more about the Venture Law Project’s progress, how to get help or get involved and more workshops that are planned in a Q&A last week on the Starting Gate blog here.

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