The Wake Forest University's Community Law & Business Clinic is up, running and ready to serve clients.
The grand opening of the clinic, hosted by the Law School, was held Nov. 13 at its location in downtown Winston-Salem.
The CL&BC is an extension of Wake Forest's resource and talents, placing Wake Forest students and faculty in downtown Winston-Salem while delivering services to community-based efforts.
The CL&BC will provide pro bono legal and business consultancy services to small business owners and nonprofit organizations that develop or improve low-income housing in Winston-Salem as well as the surrounding communities. The hope is that in the future students will be able to work with for-profit entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Among the range of services the CL&BC will offer will be drafting and reviewing documents and agreements and advising entrepreneurs on business planning and development. While the new program is part of the School of Law, students in both the School of Law and WFU's Babcock Graduate School of Management will receive academic credit for working in the clinic.
"Wake Forest has always been a source of positive change," said Steven Virgil, School of Law professor and director of the CL&BC. “Wake Forest has a calling to find ways to use its resources to make our community a better place. The clinic will help Wake Forest students become better lawyers and businesspeople as well as better citizens.”
Alumnus and Law Board of Visitors member Murray Greason (JD '62) was among those who spoke at the clinic’s grand opening. Greason said the clinic is a win-win because it will benefit the students as well as the city. Students working in the clinic will learn a range of skills from setting up not-for-profit organizations to developing marketing strategies for small businesses, which could help them find better jobs upon graduation.
"The community will gain access to legal and business advice for small businesses and not-for-profits who can't afford to pay the rates of regular lawyers," Greason said. "And the law students will gain experience in learning how to deal with real problems, and solve them."
In addition to creating connections with the community and giving students practical experience, School of Law Dean Blake Morant said that the university will offer fellowships to the law and business students who work in the clinic as well as undergraduate business students who work in the clinic.
“This is a community effort,” Morant said. “It’s going to be a beacon in representing how Wake Forest University feels about this city.”
Wake Forest Provost Jill Tiefenthaler said that the clinic is a wonderful example of the types of partnerships the university wants to build between graduate and undergraduate students as well as the university’s surrounding community. “Community engagement is part of our strategic plan,” she said. “Partnerships like these are vital for improving our future.”
Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines added that small businesses are the lifeblood of the city and thanked the university for its “extraordinary investment in our community.”
The CL&BC's address is 8 West Third St., Suite 100A, and the phone number is (336) 631-1953.