Student Experience

Student Experience

The Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center provides second- and third-year students with hands-on business experience. Many of America's leading law schools, including Northwestern, offer students an opportunity to gain practical experience through a variety of clinical programs, but almost all are in the areas of trial and appellate advocacy and other forms of litigation. The DPELC adds a business component to Northwestern Pritzker's already nationally acclaimed clinical programs.

Students participating in DPELC Classes are tightly connected to Chicago's burgeoning entrepreneurial community, facilitating the city's economic growth and fostering job creation. Students guide entrepreneurs through essential legal issues, working collaboratively with other students and gaining a broad range of transactional legal skills with a variety of business models. They build their own confidence as transactional lawyers while helping passionate entrepreneurs start and run successful ventures.

Law Alum Robbie Salter

Robbie Salter (JD-MBA '13)

"By far and away, my fondest memories of law school were from the time I spent at the Entrepreneurship Law Center.

The resources and team helped me apply the theory of entrepreneurial law into the practical, solving real legal challenges for entrepreneurs at different life cycles seeking counsel."

"Our Center tackles projects that may be too complex for a student to pursue on his or her own. Following a law firm model, a senior lawyer guides students through the process, ensuring the same quality one would expect from a top law firm," says Center Director Esther Barron. Adds Assistant Director Steve Reed, "Our Center's primary goal is to expose students to a variety of clients and types of work, and we diligently establish and maintain connections with Chicago's entrepreneurial community. Many attorneys didn't have the benefit of a transactional clinic when they were in school and the experience students gain here provides them with the vocabulary and practice to hit the ground running with confidence as transactional attorneys." “In addition, our Center continues to establish relationships with educational programs, new business incubators and accelerators, and certain programs administered by the city, in an effort to reach and assist under-served entrepreneurs and founders” says Professor Darren Green.

As part of their Entrepreneurship Center experience, students meet weekly to talk and work through issues currently being addressed with clients. Students also give presentations, prepare topical summaries similar to what would be expected of a junior associate at a law firm and outside speakers, such as successful entrepreneurs, are invited to address specific topics. Outside of class, students spearhead all client interaction. On teams or individually, they direct client correspondence, lead meetings, draft contracts, agreements, and more. All work is initiated by students, but reviewed by faculty to ensure law firm-quality.

Learn more about entrepreneurship courses offered at the law school.

Student Board

Law Student Board
Entrepreneurship Center Student Board

A key ingredient to the success of the DPELC is the involvement of a Student Board. Members, selected by past board members, are highly motivated, entrepreneurial individuals who make significant contributions in the area of program content, student and client recruitment, fundraising, public relations, community outreach, and the use of technology.

Partnership with Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management has been particularly rewarding for Center students and clients alike. The Student Board and faculty advisors have begun to explore ways to collaborate more closely with the University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and with numerous governmental and private sector organizations, to help stimulate economic development in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Student Board members conduct community workshops and engage in other outreach activities involving small business, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

LawMeets; The Real Deal

2015 Northwestern LawMeet student team
2015 Northwestern LawMeet team (from left) Chris Grady, Miriam Liabo, Jonathan Gordon, and Amy Garber

LawMeets is the premier nationwide moot court experience for students interested in transactional law. Student teams from law schools around the country participate in regional rounds. The winners of the regional rounds move on to compete in the national finals. Northwestern Law typically has two student teams and has hosted the Midwest regional round of the competition for the past three years. Northwestern teams have performed well, winning awards each year they have competed.

The Real Deal is the DPELC’s own transactional law competition, open only to Northwestern Pritzker students. The competition provides participants with an opportunity to gain meaningful experience in both drafting and negotiating certain agreements which are common in the start-up space.