September 10, 2003

Law Students Gain Valuable Job Skills

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A recently established program at Cornell is affording law students the opportunity for hands-on experience in Ithaca’s business law arena.

Entrepreneurship Legal Services (ELS), sponsored by the Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Cornell Law School, and affiliated with the New York State Science and Technology Law Center, ELS kicked off its services last month.

“[ELS is designed to provide] quality affordable legal services to clients who are thinking of starting a business,” said John Marston, grad, a participating student in the program.

Through law firm-supervised consultations with entrepreneurs in the initial stages of business development, the program provides law students with practical experience in business law and in cultivating local entrepreneurial endeavors.

“[ELS also provides] practical experience to law students and fosters relationships among clients, law students and area law firms,” Marston said.

Prof. Zachary Schulman ’87, the J. Thomas Clark Senior Lecturer of Entrepreunership at the Johnson School, an adjunct faculty member at the Law School and executive director of ELS, underscored the program’s capacity to forge solid relationships between local law firms and local business, while allowing local law firms to attract new clients.

“ELS is not competing with the local law market; we have local firms participating in the program and we welcome additional firms,” he said. “When the small business participant gets off their feet, they may [choose to be] real clients [of the firm they worked with].”

Development of ELS began in January, when Schulman applied for funding. After receiving final approval in May, students, local law firms, sponsors and affiliates were assembled in time for the program’s commencement last month.

While ELS is new to the Cornell and Ithaca communities, various other universities across the country offer similar programs for their graduate students to work in the local business law market.

Referencing the success of existing programs similar to ELS at law schools such as Albany and the University of Pennsylvania, Schulman said, “They are successful because they help out their constituents.”

Currently, ten law students are utilizing ELS’s capabilities to provide them with experience in business-law consultation.

“I’m really interested in intellectual property and corporate law,” said Lindsay Silber, grad. “[ELS] is a way to learn more about [these issues] by working with companies in their beginning stages.”

In addition, Silber recognized the practical value that the program provides to participating students.

“If I ever want to start a company myself this [knowledge] will be a great help,” she said. “This sort of hands-on experience is difficult to get in a law firm.”

Those seeking further information on the program should visit the ELS website,

Archived article by Ellen Miller