Attorneys working in a pandemic must build client trust without meeting in person. It’s a challenge for everyone in the profession, and a skill that student attorneys in the Drake Law School’s Entrepreneurial and Transactional Clinic are currently building.
Students continue to provide legal assistance to business startups, entrepreneurs, and community nonprofit organizations. After being trained on best practices by our faculty, they meet their clients with videoconferencing tools, just like today’s working attorneys.
“Learning to conduct effective client interviews and other meetings remotely is an important real-life skill that is gained through exposure and experience,” said Nick Roby, director of the clinic. “Our student lawyers now have that knowledge, and that will serve them well in their legal careers.”
Students interview entrepreneurs, provide counsel, help them incorporate or create LLCs, and create strategies for protecting their intellectual property. The students also counsel small business owners on common issues such as employment agreements and policies, Sub-S elections, leases, purchase agreements, financing arrangements, buy-sell agreements, and independent contractor agreements. “These are all experiences they will regularly have upon passing the bar exam after graduation,” said Roby.
This real-world experience benefits both the students and the Des Moines community. Many of the clinic’s clients live in underserved Des Moines neighborhoods and cannot afford retained legal counsel. Conducting interviews by video in some cases makes it easier on both the client and our students to be efficient and effective with their time.
“Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement,” said Roby.