From Practice to Practitioner: Clinic Gives Students Training to Thrive

Dear Silicon Flatirons Friends and Supporters,

The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (ELC) just completed its 17th year. ELC student attorneys have now helped hundreds of startups and their founders navigate legal issues associated with starting a company. In 2017-18 alone, the ELC billed over 4,500 hours on behalf of over 30 clients. The ELC also conducts outreach to entrepreneurs doing inspired work through entities such as Denver’s Mi Casa.

I’ve been privileged to lead the ELC since 2005. Several others, including Phil Weiser, Dale Oesterle, Katie Morgan, Chris Ozeroff, Mike Platt, and Bill Mooz, have taught the ELC at times. Today, Adjunct Professor Keith Olivia teams with me to co-teach the ELC, with the support of an amazing roster of volunteer supervising attorneys.

Among the ELC’s greatest rewards is to see our students’ growth. The ELC is a powerful opportunity for transactionally minded law students to put their coursework into action. More than 200 students have received this vital training while providing legal advice to real clients.

This update spotlights two ELC alumna who are each putting their transactional skills to work at Techstars. In the Q&A below, Shannon Liston, Corporate Counsel, and Sierra Moller, Associate Corporate Counsel, trace their journey from being ELC students to in-house legal counsel at a booming, fast scaling company.

What is your favorite memory of being an ELC student?
Shannon: The opportunity to do “real” lawyering with real attorneys and clients. I so wanted to apply the things we were learning outside of papers and exams.
Sierra: The day we sat with our client walking through the steps on the Colorado Secretary of State website to formally set up his company. He was so excited. And it was a moment that meant so much to him. I was glad to be a part of it.

What client projects or clients themselves stand out to you?
Shannon: Women founders in tech. I worked with two women founders in clinic and continue to get to work with a high number.
Sierra: One of our clients was a small family-owned business. It was so neat to see how each generation interacted with one another, and helped each other. The older generation knew the fundamentals of running a business, whereas the younger generation was eager to take the business into the 21st century.

In what ways did your ELC position prepare you for your current job?
Shannon: In clinic, I worked with new founders on corporate formation, how ownership will be split, vesting, and IP ownership. That was a great foundation for my current position.
Sierra: It is critically important to speak to founders in terms that they already understand. The clinic afforded me an opportunity to hone that skill.

What is your favorite thing about entrepreneurship?
Shannon: I love the network of support good founders build and the alignment between the company and a good investor.
Sierra: I couldn’t agree more. #GiveFirst is the creed to which our community of entrepreneurs and those who support and work with them live by. I am proud to be a part of it and help law students discover it.


Have a great summer,

Brad Bernthal
Director, Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurship Initiative

Know What’s Next