Wayne Law students help Detroit prosper through their clinic studies
DETROIT — Third-year students Brittany Bradshaw and Weiling Chou are among those praising the experience and opportunities to help the revival of Detroit by working with Wayne State University Law School’s Business and Community Law Clinic.
Since the clinic began serving clients in 2007, it has provided legal assistance to dozens of for-profit clients, including technology companies, record labels and a day spa, and many startup nonprofits, including an organization offering services to children of domestic abuse survivors and a public-interest environmental law firm. The clinic offers its services to those who qualify free of charge.
For students, the clinic, which is part of Wayne Law’s Program for Entrepreneurship and Business Law, offers real-world legal experience and gives them a chance to help support business development in Detroit. Among the legal services the students provide, under the supervision of licensed attorneys, are contract preparation, entity formation and preparation of trademark and copyright applications.
Part of the mission of the Program for Entrepreneurship and Business Law, under the direction of Assistant (Clinical) Professor Eric Williams, is to help aspiring business professionals in underserved communities participate in the economic revival of Detroit.
“Brittany and Weiling embodied the ideals behind the clinic and program. They took on the challenge of the legal work and embraced the opportunity to be part of the explosion of entrepreneurism here in Detroit,” Williams said.
For Chou of Troy, who hopes to practice business law and continue helping startups and businesses after graduation, working and studying as part of the clinic was exciting.
“I got to work closely with two startups and one nonprofit, all of which were trying to make a positive impact in Detroit,” she said. “I helped with entity formation, applied for trademarks and helped shape their business plans. Another student and I worked with America Defeating Adolescent Obesity, which is a nonprofit that is looking to introduce fitness and healthy eating in Detroit schools. They came to us with a beautiful vision, and by working closely with them to apply for their 501(c)(3) exemption, we were able to identify legal and logistical obstacles and work together in finding solutions to strengthen their business plans.”
Cara Dukes of Troy, founder and chairman of the board of America Defeating Adolescent Obesity, said the law students she worked with as a clinic client were extremely helpful.
“It was amazing,” Dukes said. “They were very mature beyond their years in terms of their knowledge and how they helped and used resources within the clinic. I’m not a lawyer, I’m a businesswoman, but they really made it easy for me to understand what I needed to do, and they were very accessible and knowledgeable.”
One of the reasons Chou chose Wayne Law for her legal studies was to be able to take part in the revival of Detroit, she said, and participating in the clinic helped her do that.
Bradshaw of Warren also is enthusiastic about her work in the clinic and in helping to further its mission of serving the community.
“I had the opportunity to meet with clients, draft documents and work on an application for a client to gain 501(c)(3) status,” she said. “One of the most exciting aspects of the Business and Community Law Clinic is the fact that all of the clients are located in the Detroit area, so not only are you learning and gaining legal experience, but you are playing a role in the growth of Detroit.”
When she graduates, she hopes to help people in need who are currently underserved by the legal community, she said.
Chou, who serves on Wayne Law’s transactional Law Meet team, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and psychology from the University of Michigan. She works as a legal assistant for Berry Moorman PC in Detroit. She is assistant editor for The Wayne Law Review.
Bradshaw, a member of the Keith Students for Civil Rights, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and English from the University of Michigan. She served as a summer associate with Bodman PLC and as a summer intern for U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Tarnow, Eastern District of Michigan, after her first year of law school.