About Us

What We Do

Michigan Law’s Entrepreneurship Clinic, part of the Zell Entrepreneurship and Law (ZEAL) Program, is an innovative clinical law program that represents and advises University of Michigan student-led entrepreneurial ventures and other entrepreneurial ventures.

The first of its kind in the United States, the Entrepreneurship Clinic plays a central role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem at the University of Michigan and beyond. Since its inception in 2012, the clinic has provided no-cost legal services to a significant number of student-led and other startups. We offer an array of services and resources including direct legal representation, office hours, workshops, and blog posts with current information about entrepreneurial legal issues. We also host the Ann Arbor New Tech meetup. The direct legal services we offer includes entity formation, intellectual property protection, advice on worker classification issues, financing and deal-making. These services help innovators launch and grow their businesses. The clinic also provides law students with the real-life experience needed to help early-stage companies after they graduate from law school.


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Practicing Attorney Partners

About ZEAL

The Zell Entrepreneurship and Law (ZEAL) Program at Michigan Law is a unique program that provides both practical and theoretical training to law students interested in working with entrepreneurial businesses. The cornerstone of ZEAL is the Entrepreneurship Clinic, where student attorneys, under the guidance of supervising faculty, offer free legal advice to the University of Michigan’s burgeoning number of student entrepreneurs from across all schools and disciplines on the Ann Arbor campus. Supplementing the Entrepreneurship Clinic are courses taught by full- and part-time faculty who have experience working with both startups and existing entrepreneurial businesses. Students will learn about venture finance, private equity, startups, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, IPOs, intellectual property, employment law, and related areas.

Seeded with a gift from Sam Zell, ’66, a Chicago-based entrepreneur who earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Michigan, ZEAL is part of wider U-M initiatives geared toward entrepreneurial development, including the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Ross School of Business (ZLI); the Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) within the School of Engineering; the Innovate Blue initiative; the Michigan Venture Center; student-run programs like the Wolverine Venture Fund; and a variety of competitions and grant programs that encourage student startups.

Law School faculty and students collaborate with the following organizations across the U-M campus:

Who We Are

Dana A. Thompson

Clinical Professor of Law

Dana A. Thompson is a clinical professor of law and the founding director and a co-professor of the University of Michigan Law School’s Entrepreneurship Clinic, where she represents University of Michigan student-led ventures. Prior to the Entrepreneurship Clinic, she taught in the Urban Communities Clinic, where she represented small businesses, startup ventures, and community-based organizations. Prior to joining Michigan Law, Prof. Thompson founded and taught Wayne State University Law School’s Small Business Enterprises and Nonprofit Corporations Clinic. At Wayne Law, she was also the director of the Damon J. Keith Law Collection of African-American Legal History. She represents clients in corporate, nonprofit, and startup company matters. She is a contributing author to Building Healthy Communities: A Guide to Community Economic Development for Advocates, Lawyers and Policymakers, published by the ABA’s Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law. She is also the author of the article, “L3Cs: An Innovative Choice for Urban Entrepreneurship and Urban Revitalization,” published in the American University Business Law Review (Winter 2013, Vol. 2.1). Her article, “Accelerating the Growth of the Next Generation of Innovators,” was published in the fall 2013 edition of the Ohio State Entrepreneurial Business Law Journal.

Fermin Miguel Mendez

Clinical Fellow

Professor Fermin Miguel Mendez is a clinical teaching fellow in the University of Michigan Law School’s Entrepreneurship Clinic. Prior to joining the Law School faculty, Professor Mendez served as an attorney for Varnum LLP and Clark Hill PLC, where he counseled clients on a variety of matters including general corporate law, formation and entity selection, venture capital, and mergers and acquisitions. Professor Mendez regularly provided companies and entrepreneurs advice on employee onboarding, intellectual property strategy, intellectual property licensing and commercialization, the sale of securities, and various other business considerations. While at Varnum LLP, he functioned as both service provider and brand ambassador for the firm’s startup/economic development initiative.

David N. Parsigian

Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Law

David N. Parsigian is the managing partner of the Ann Arbor office of the law firm of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, where he specializes in venture capital financing and representation of technology-based companies. He has extensive experience in advising technology businesses with respect to locating sources of capital and structuring financings ranging from seed capital to initial public offerings. His areas of focus include general corporate, finance, mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances, and technology licensing. Prof. Parsigian is a lecturer on matters relating to private equity finance and venture capital at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and Walsh College. He has also been a frequent presenter at meetings of the Association of University Technology Managers. He received his law degree, with honors, from the University of Texas, and a BSME (mechanical engineering), magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan.

Representative Clients

At Elegus Technologies, we are commercializing a lithium-ion battery separator that allows battery manufacturers to increase their energy density without compromising safety. We believe our separator material will continue solving the problems facing multiple chemistries and applications.

IndustryStar is passionate about bringing innovative and disruptive technologies to market that will have a positive impact on the world. Our flexible Supply Chain as a Service offering and software expedites new product launches, provides greater operational flexibility and reduces supply chain risk.

SkySpecs enables wind farm owners, ISPs, and OEMs to easily monitor and track the health of their wind turbines withan automated robotic inspection.

Cart coordinates rides for individuals who lack adequate transportation to get to and from fully-stocked supermarkets. Cart does this by connecting rideshare companies and grocery stores through a web-based platform.

Flipsi Baby feeding bottle can be turned inside out for easier cleaning without using bottle brushes or drying racks. Designed with a natural nipple shape to ease the transition from breastfeeding to bottle, it also meets CPSC safety standards and is made of food grade silicone and polypropylene which are free of BPA, BPS, phthalates, latex, nitrosamines, lead, PVC and PET.

Sahi Cosmetics aims to make makeup shopping fun for our customers, and more importantly, empowering. Our company not only addresses the problem, but encourages women to “Own Your Color.” We are one of the first companies to cater makeup for all ethnic skin tones. We believe in celebrating people from all walks of life, which is why this specific line was developed to work for a largely untapped segment of the market.