Legal is startups
Lawyers need to become entrepreneurs (or at least think like
them). It makes sense. A lot of sense. And if they are focused on changing their own
industry then all the better. This has
been my mantra for years and I am happy to see that more and more people are
saying it too. And not just people, but
an actual law school.
Michigan State University recently announced that it is hosting the inaugural ReInvent Law Start-Up Competition. How fantastic! A law school is actually launching itself and its students into the madness of the startup world. The opportunity to learn will abound as well as the small yet real opportunity to actually start a new company. Now that would be a unique angle on a student’s law school career.
Anyone familiar with MSU’s law school should not be shocked to hear this. The good folks up there started the ReInvent Law Laboratory and have hosted global conferences over the last year or so. But holding a conference and running a startup competition are two very different things. The purpose behind the competition is to challenge “student entrepreneurs to explore new business plans and create better delivery models that match appropriately qualified lawyers with the clients who need them.” So this is less about black letter law and theory and more about practical ideation and business design. These are two traits any lawyer would covet – and their clients would most likely appreciate too.
Full disclosure I have been asked to serve as one of the three judges for the competition, which I humbly and eagerly accepted. It will be the law school Dean, Joan Howarth, a local entrepreneur, and myself who judge the pitches and select the ultimate winner.
No doubt I will have much to report on that after the event so stay tuned.
On a related note:
The Kauffmann Foundation – one of the largest organizations of its kinds that gives grants and does research with the goal of advancing entrepreneurship – recently released its annual report of the state of entrepreneurship (pdf). In short, the recession was great for sparking not only new ideas and companies but also new platforms and mechanism that support the startup economy. New funding devices such as crowdfunding and community based investment did not exist until recently.
The legal profession is not immune – nor should it want to be. It is a robust field of opportunity for entrepreneurs - so I am hoping to see, meet, help and launch more startups in the months and years to come.