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.

What We Do

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.

426+

Office Hours Served

492+

Legal Matters Completed

123+

Clients Served




188+

Law Students Admitted

383+

Office Hours Held

18+

Practicing Attorney Partners

Apply for Legal Services

Featured Events and Clients

Events

Monthly Ann Arbor New Tech Meet Ups

Five presenters this month take the stage for ten minutes each, five minutes to demo and five minutes to answer questions, followed by open announcements and community networking.

Former Client

Canopy wins top prize in Ann Arbor Spark boot camp

Canopy, a tech solutions supplier for the health care industry, won the top prize in Ann Arbor Spark’s Entrepreneur Boot Camp.

The business accelerator program awarded the Ann Arbor startup a $25,000 award out of a dozen companies that participated in the boot camp designed to develop business ideas.

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.

Collaborators

Who We Are

Dana A. Thompson

Clinical Professor of Law

Professor Dana A. Thompson, ’99,  is a clinical professor of law and directs Michigan Law’s Transactional Law Clinics Program, the Community Enterprise Clinic, and the Entrepreneurship Clinic. She has devoted most of her legal career to representing community-based organizations and small businesses on transactional matters to advance economic and racial justice in urban communities. Professor Thompson teaches in the Community Enterprise Clinic, where she represents community-based and nonprofit organizations, cooperatives, social enterprises, and small businesses in Detroit and other disinvested urban communities. She is the founding director of Michigan Law’s Entrepreneurship Clinic, where she represented University of Michigan student-led startups and other start-up ventures.

Before joining Michigan Law, Professor Thompson taught at Wayne State University Law School and founded and directed Wayne Law’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.

Her scholarship and other writings focus on urban entrepreneurship and community development, small business legal matters, and student entrepreneurship. Prior to entering academia, Professor Thompson practiced at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco, then at Miller, Starr and Regalia, where she specialized in commercial real estate and corporate law. She then joined the Nature Conservancy as regional counsel.

In November 2014, Professor Thompson was elected statewide by the citizens of Michigan to serve on the Wayne State University Board of Governors, which elects the president of the university, has general supervision of the university, and controls all expenditures from university funds, among other duties. Professor Thompson also serves on the board of directors of TechTown Detroit and serves on other nonprofit boards. She is the past chair of the Community Economic Development Committee of the ABA’s Business Law Section and is a past co-chair of the Legal Educator’s Committee of the ABA’s Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law. She also is a past co-chair of the Association of American Law School’s Clinical Law Section’s Awards Committee.

Professor Thompson received her JD from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was editor of the Michigan Law Review, and her AB from Bryn Mawr College.

Tifani Sadek

Clinical Assistant Professor of Law

Tifani Sadek is a clinical assistant professor of law in the Entrepreneurship Clinic. Before entering academia, Professor Sadek’s legal career traversed many sectors and primarily centered on the intersection of law and business. Immediately prior to joining the Law School faculty, she was an attorney at General Motors, where she served as lead counsel on the expansion of connected vehicles into South America, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. While at General Motors, she also supported connected vehicle operations and negotiated transactions related to data sharing.

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.

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.