Collaborative Supports Social Entrepreneurs

Adonica Black, JD ‘14, Barrett Hunter, JD ‘14, Kristellys Zolondek, program coordinator, and Dana Mekler, U.S. manager of Sports for Sharing

GW Law’s Small Business and Community Economic Development (SBCED) Clinic has joined the International Transactions Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School and the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center to form the Social Enterprise Clinical Support Collaborative. The collaborative represents Ashoka, a leading global nonprofit that identifies and invests in social entrepreneurs around the world. 

The goal of the collaboration between Ashoka and the three clinics is to advance the development of the legal sector that supports social entrepreneurship. In addition to conducting research and producing legal tool kits for Ashoka, the collaborative provides the nonprofit’s numerous social entrepreneurs, or Ashoka Fellows, with transactional and business legal support to help them launch and scale their enterprises, which are designed to address social problems on a systemic level. Through the clinics’ affiliation with Ashoka, students at the collaborating law schools are able to participate in representation, planning, and advocacy on behalf of social enterprise clients in the United States and abroad. 

During 2013–14, SBCED represented Sports for Sharing, a civic education organization founded by an Ashoka Fellow. The organization engages elementary school students in sports and games as a way to promote civic values and combat societal problems. Clinic students gave Sports for Sharing in-depth advice and counseling on start-up matters. They also had the opportunity to observe the organization in action and see firsthand the tremendous response of children in the program. Students watched the children connecting through sports and games on difficult concepts like world hunger and poverty. 

Susan R. Jones, professor of clinical law and director of the SBCED, co-wrote an article about the collaborative effort with Professor Deborah Burand, director of the International Transactions Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School; Professor Alicia E. Plerhoples, director of the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center; and Jonathan Ng, global legal director and in-house counsel for Ashoka. The article, “Clinical Collaborations: Going Global to Advance Social Entrepreneurship,” published in the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education, shares lessons learned by each author and presents recommendations for establishing similar cross-university clinical collaborations. 

 

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