The clinic’s first task is to meet with the founder(s) for an in-depth discussion of the business plan. If the plan is in writing, the clinic should obtain a copy along with any other papers that the founder has collected or prepared.
It is normally not the role of a law school clinic to help an entrepreneur draft a business plan (unless the clinic is working cooperatively with an associated graduate school of business or with students pursuing joint JD-MBA degrees). However, it is of great value to the entrepreneur in developing his or her plan to learn from clinic faculty and students what legal matters should be taken into consideration, how long it will take to resolve each of them and what costs will be involved. Some of this information can be provided at the first meeting with the client. Other information will be forthcoming at subsequent meetings or through correspondence, telephone conversations, or email messages.
For a law student enrolled in a transactional clinic, the most valuable parts of the experience are learning how to interact with clients, how to identify legal issues, and how to communicate them to the client in a simple and straightforward manner.
Some transactional clinics have found that “opinion letters” drafted by students are an excellent teaching tool and an effective way in which to provide legal advice to clients. The drafting of such materials for real clients (or those that are only hypothetical) teaches students how to spot legal issues, look for solutions, and communicate what has been done or needs to be done. For representative samples of such materials see Opinion Letters. Because students are conscious of “covering all of the bases” and getting a good grade as well as serving the client, these may tend to be somewhat more elaborate than they would be in a real world setting. The instructor will have to decide on a case by case basis if accurate, but possibly unnecessary, explanations should be deleted or shortened.