Law Scholarship

Business Incubators Legal Resource Materials


This Business Incubator section provides a list of legal resource materials including books, articles, online and other resources related to the topic of Community Economic Development.


Abstract (from publisher):  This is a guide to collecting and disseminating economic impact information. In this small-but-mighty toolkit, you’ll find the rationale behind data collection, the 10 data points you should track, tips for ensuring cooperation from clients and graduates, advice on how to crunch the numbers, and suggestions for ways to get the news out to stakeholders and the public. In addition, separate surveys for clients and graduates and a spreadsheet for data collection are included on an accompanying CD-ROM.


Abstract: An overview of what business incubators are and how they operate.


University of Michigan, NBIA, Ohio University and Southern Technology Council, BUSINESS INCUBATION WORKS (1997).

Abstract (from publisher): Business incubators reduce the risk of small business failures. Historically, NBIA member incubators have reported that 87 percent of all firms that have graduated from their incubators are still in business. In the general population, 66 percent of new firms survive at least two years, and 44 percent survive at least four years. It is important to note that these figures are not directly comparable, due to differences in survey methodology, time frame and other factors. However, looking at them side by side does strongly suggest that business incubation reduces the risk of small business failure and offers a valuable comparison.


Casey W. Baker, Incubating Golden Eggs: Why Attorney Ethics Rules May Stifle Small Business Development, 2 Entrepreneurial Bus. L.J. 507 (2007).

Abstract (from the introduction): This work explores the impact of the model attorney ethics rules on business incubation. Attorneys can provide valuable services to client companies in business incubator systems, but ethics rules place restrictions on attorneys providing concurrent representation to clients with differing interests and thus, may negatively impact the potential benefits an attorney can provide. In addition, attorneys can serve as valuable sources of financing for the start-up companies through equity compensation schemes. However, ethics rules limit attorney business-dealings with clients to such a degree that small businesses, with no other ability to compensate attorneys, may be cut off from the benefit of attorney advice. This work argues that exceptions to the rules are needed to provide flexibility so that small businesses engaged in business incubation are not cut off from valuable attorney services.

Fredrick Burger, Business Incubators: How Successful Are They?, Area Dev. Site & Facility Plan. (Jan. 1, 1999).

Abstract (from the  introduction):  Business incubators have thrived when backed by solid infrastructure, technology they can leverage, and community support. Sometimes a revolutionary idea is born of economic necessity. That's how business incubators - an innovative vehicle for encouraging fledgling entrepreneurs and creating local jobs - came into being.

Mathew J. Manimala & Devi Vijay, Technology Business Incubators (TBIs): A Perspective for the Emerging Economies (IIM Bangalore, Research Paper No. 358, 2012), available at

Abstract (adapted from authors): Technology and entrepreneurship are often reckoned to be the twin-horses pulling national economies towards their developmental destinations. Technology based enterprises (TBEs) are attractive to policy-makers because of their higher potential for job creation and wealth-generation through business growth as well as their lower disappearance rates compared to non-technology based firms. As new technologies are often developed in R&D institutions, it was such institutions in the Western nations that first took the initiative of providing incubation facilities to transfer these new technologies to the market. The model was later used by public and private agencies for facilitating technology development for new ventures. Such initiatives are now known by the common name of Technology Business Incubators (TBIs), some of which are focused on technology transfer and others on technology development for new ventures. Though TBIs are generally considered to be a major facilitator of TBEs, the experience of their effectiveness has been mixed, especially in the emerging economies’ context. It is against the background of such diversity of experiences that the authors have undertaken a comprehensive review of the literature on TBI performance. The findings suggest that, while in the developed countries technology development drives the incubator movement, the process is reversed in developing countries, where the incubator movement is trying to push technology development forward. For this reason the success of TBIs in developing countries would depend largely on the public support available for them.

Michelle Sinclair & Joseph Galaskiewicz,Corporate-nonprofit Partnerships: Varieties and Covariates, 41 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 1059 (1997).

Abstract (from the introduction): Companies face conflicting demands: on one hand, as agents of capital, they have a fiduciary responsibility to optimize return on shareholder equity; on the other, as social institutions, they have a responsibility to look after the well being of the larger community. The literature on corporate philanthropy shows that companies transfer money to the charitable sector in a variety of ways. This article offers a typology of corporate giving varieties. Company giving can be typed along two dimensions: exclusivity and meterability of benefits.  To the extent that company giving results in exclusive, measurable benefits for the firm, it is faithful to its agency responsibilities. If company giving benefits many different actors in the environment--including competitors, in many and diffuse ways--it could be faithful to its social responsibility mandate, but it could also be serving managerial utility.  While the description of the different varieties of corporate philanthropy draws heavily on case studies, the discussion of contextual effects draws on large sample surveys of company giving behavior.
Dana Thompson, Accelerating the Growth of the Next Generation of Innovators, 8 Ohio St. Entrepreneurial Bus. L.J. 379 (2013).
Abstract (by author): The University of Michigan Law School’s Entrepreneurship Clinic (the “Entrepreneurship Clinic”) is one of the first legal clinics of its kind created to provide legal representation and general legal education solely to student-led ventures at the University of Michigan, including those ventures involved in the University’s student venture accelerator, TechArb. This essay generally discusses campus student incubators, and in particular TechArb, the University of Michigan’s accelerator for student-led startups. The essay explores the particular types of governance issues that student-led ventures face and how lawyers, law firms and law school clinics help to address these issues. It also discusses the Entrepreneurship Clinic and the role it plays in providing legal representation to University of Michigan student-led ventures on governance and other legal issues. The relationship between the University of Michigan’s TechArb and the Entrepreneurship Clinic provides an example of the importance of collaboration among campus entrepreneurship programs, and illustrates how law schools should play a larger role in cultivating campus entrepreneurship and in developing a dynamic campus entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Sumana Wolf & Erica Edwards-Oneal, The Special Role of Career Services Professionals in the Development and Success of Law School Incubator Programs, 1 J. Experiential Learning 308 (2015).

Abstract (adapted from authors): Law school incubator programs are run by one law school (or a consortium of law schools) to help a selected group of recent graduates start their own law firms. Essentially, the law school provides the “start-up” environment and infrastructure for incubator participants who wish to start their own solo practices across a variety of practice areas. Such a “start-up” environment and infrastructure typically includes shared office space, basic office furnishings and supplies, and internet access. The law school also provides mentorship, guidance, and training to the incubator participants on how to start their own firm, including Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses on topics related to practice management as well as substantive law training in relevant practice areas.
This article examines the special role that career services professionals can play in the development and success of incubator programs, including specific actions that career services professionals can take to help start an incubator program at their law school as well as thoughts on what career services professionals can do to help current students prepare for participation in a post-graduate incubator program. The article also includes a discussion of the incubator programs at the authors’ respective institutions.

Other Materials

Symposium: Law, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Recovery Note, The World is Indeed Flat: Preparing Students for the Global Market Through Law School and Small-Business Incubator Partnerships, 78 UMKC L. Rev. 543 (2009).

Abstract: Small-business incubators, especially those operated by not-for-profit organizations, such as universities or economic arms of government, are designed to push economic growth by providing resources to small businesses operating in an incubator. One particular resource, sound legal advice, which is essential to the success of any new business, provides a unique opportunity for a mutually beneficial relationship to exist betweenbusiness incubators and law schools. Law schools, through use of a legal clinic partnered with an incubator, can provide practical, real-world experience for students, and businesses operating within an incubator would receive sound legal advice at a cost they could afford.

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