Entrepreneurship and Community Development (“ECD”) Clinic FAQs for Students

What does the ECD Clinic do?

The ECD Clinic provides transactional and some administrative legal representation to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community groups, and small businesses. ECD Clinic clients seek to positively impact the St. Louis community in a variety of ways, including neighborhood revitalization, job creation, producing and preserving affordable housing, offering needed goods and services, and working to generate solutions to common community problems.  Under the guidance and supervision of full-time faculty members, law students provide legal services to ECD Clinic clients on a range of matters in the following four areas:

Community Development: The ECD Clinic assists community-based nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and other members of the community with transactional matters including fiscal sponsorship, choice of entity and formation, obtaining and maintaining federal tax-exempt status, governance issues, contract drafting and review, regulatory compliance issues, and real estate matters (including, for example, the purchase and sale of real estate, leasing, and condemnation and eminent domain defense).

Entrepreneurship: The ECD Clinic assists entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses with transactional and administrative matters including choice of entity and formation, occupational licensing and permitting, employment matters, contract drafting and review, regulatory compliance issues, and legal research.  

Intellectual Property: The ECD Clinic principally assists entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofit entities with transactional and administrative matters, including trademark, copyright, trade secrets, and licensing, and provides consultation and research on a variety of intellectual property related matters (i.e., trademark and copyright searches, filing copyright registrations, prosecuting trademarks, and infringement related issues).

Policy: The ECD Clinic works with advocates and community organizations to develop local and state policy solutions to advance entrepreneurship and community development in St. Louis and nationally.

The ECD Clinic is comprised of two sections, one of which is supervised by Professor Patricia H. Lee and one of which is supervised by Professor Dana Malkus. The section supervised by Professor Lee primarily focuses on intellectual and real property and policy as it relates to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofit enterprises.  The section supervised by Professor Malkus primarily focuses on community development as it relates to nonprofits, real estate, neighborhood entrepreneurs, and policy. 


What doesn’t the ECD Clinic do?

Generally, the ECD Clinic does not litigate in a court of law, provide bankruptcy services, provide advice concerning securities law or tax law compliance, or provide patent prosecution. Also, the ECD Clinic does not field quick questions or accept walk-ins.


Who can become an ECD Clinic client?

Missouri or Illinois residents, nonprofits, or for-profits that need legal assistance in the ECD Clinic’s practice areas may complete an ECD Clinic Client Intake Form to be considered to be an ECD Clinic client. Clients are selected considering a variety of factors, including the ECD Clinic’s current capacity, the suitability of the matter for student educational purposes, the applicant’s available resources and access to market-rate legal services (including the applicant’s income and family size), timing needs, and the applicant’s potential community impact. The ECD Clinic’s services are best suited for applicants who have developed clear ideas, goals, and plans for their ventures (for example, as evidenced by a viable business plan or other written document).


What will I learn in the ECD Clinic?

Depending on your client load and time you are able to devote to your clinic work, the ECD Clinic (through both the classroom and live-client experiences) offers you the opportunity to understand and begin to develop some or all of the following core skills:

  • client interviewing;
  • investigation and planning (development of strategies);
  • legal research (understanding and application of substantive law);
  • drafting legal documents;
  • client communication and counseling (oral and written); and
  • ethics and professionalism (including law practice management, collaboration, self-assessment, and self-reflection).

The ECD Clinic may be a good fit for you if you:

  • want to make an impact in the St. Louis community;
  • are trying to decide whether a transactional or a litigation practice is the best fit or you already know you want to do transactional work and want the opportunity to develop transactional skills prior to graduation;
  • want to experience direct communication and counseling (in person, by phone, and through written correspondence) with a variety of real clients; and
  • want to learn to manage multiple legal matters and clients while developing your own professional judgment and identity.


How is the ECD Clinic different from working at a law firm, in-house legal department, or similar legal setting?

The primary difference is that, in the ECD Clinic, you are encouraged and expected to learn to take the lead on your client matters and to take responsibility for those matters under the supportive supervision of a full-time faculty member. The goal is for your supervising faculty member to be “second chair” rather than the other way around.


When and how can I sign up for the ECD Clinic?

You can apply for the ECD Clinic by completing the Unified Clinics Application, which becomes available prior to the general registration period each semester. Watch for announcements in SLU LAW News, or contact Professor Patricia Lee (leeph@slu.edu) or Professor Dana Malkus (millerdl@slu.edu). 

In general, you need to have completed 46 law school credit hours and Legal Profession before beginning your semester in the ECD Clinic. Therefore, you can apply during the semester just prior to the semester in which you will have completed 46 law school credits and Legal Profession. For most students, this means you can apply during your 2L and 3L years. 

There is limited availability in the Malkus section of the ECD Clinic for students who have completed all of the 1L required courses but who have not yet completed 46 law school credit hours or Legal Profession. If you would like to apply for one of these spots, you should apply during the spring semester of your 1L year. If accepted, you will be asked to take Legal Profession as a co-requisite course.


Can I register myself for the ECD Clinic?

No. Only the ECD Clinic faculty member can register you.


Can I drop the ECD Clinic just like any other law school class?

No. Once you are accepted into the ECD Clinic, your faculty supervisor will expect you to begin when the semester starts. In rare circumstances, a student accepted into the ECD Clinic will have a need to drop the ECD Clinic. In these circumstances, the accepted student will need to discuss the situation with the faculty supervisor to obtain approval for withdrawal. Such approval is granted only under extraordinary circumstances.


How many hours per week do I need to work in the ECD Clinic for the live-client component?  How is it graded?

As a Clinic I student, the minimum number of credits you can request for the live-client (non-classroom) component of the ECD Clinic is 3 credit hours (9 hours per week); the maximum number of credits you can request is 4 credit hours (12 hours per week). 

As a Clinic II student (which you are eligible to take after completing a semester as a Clinic I student), the minimum number of credits you can request is 2 credit hours (6 hours per week); the maximum number of credits you can request is 3 credit ours (9 hours per week).  There is no classroom component for Clinic II.

The live-client component is graded on a pass/fail basis.


How many credit hours is the classroom component?  How is it graded?

The classroom component is 2 credit hours; the class meets on Wednesdays from 4-5:50 p.m. The classroom component is graded on a letter-grade basis in accordance with School of Law grading policies and procedures.


When will I know whether I have been accepted into the ECD Clinic?

You will be notified by email prior to general registration whether you have been accepted.


Whom should I contact if I have questions?

Please feel free to contact Professor Patricia Lee (leeph@slu.edu) or Professor Dana Malkus (millerdl@slu.edu).