Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Entrepreneurial Legal Laboratory (VLSell) helps Vermont’s small businesses find legal support to launch, transition, and grow. As part of the Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP), VLSell received grant funding to provide education and legal services to Vermont small businesses owned by traditionally disadvantaged individuals – BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, veteran, rural, and women. Since the program launched in December 2021, VLSELL has helped over 60 Vermont small businesses learn about the law, and find a lawyer to help them with their legal needs.
“Through our CNPP funding, we have had the privilege of helping dozens of Vermont’s businesses find the legal services they otherwise would or could not access,” said Nicole Killoran, Director of VLSell and Professor of Law at VLGS. “Working with our partners at the Vermont Bar Association, we are helping secure legal services to support the foundation of our economy—small businesses and startups.”
As part of the CNPP, VLSell offers small businesses free individual educational consults with a team of legal experts, paid referrals to an attorney they will help find, and public educational presentations on various topics relevant to small businesses. For organizations working with multiple businesses/startups (incubator hubs, college or high school entrepreneur programs), VLSell offers office hours where faculty and students are available to explain the law and help businesses think through their legal challenges. As part of the Community Navigator service provider network, VLSell works closely with the Vermont Small Business Development Center, and the Vermont Bar Association, as well as several different business support organizations throughout the state. Since the program began VLSell has placed every business that qualifies with a lawyer in Vermont.
"The VLSell program was incredibly helpful in getting our business started by providing the general legal guidance we needed and connecting us with a fantastic lawyer to help us navigate the specifics,” said Dylan Goetinck, the owner of Alpine Gremlins, a small business that worked with VLSell as part of the CNPP. “As a cash-strapped startup, it freed up resources for other things while giving us the peace of mind that our business was set up correctly. The program was enormously helpful both with the tangibles and the knowledge gained."
VLSell’s work through the CNPP is an extension of a preexisting partnership with the Vermont Small Business Development Center, an SBA-funded service available in all 50 states.
“Working with Vermont Law & Graduate School has helped many of Vermont Small Business Development Center’s (VtSBDC) clients better understand the legal issues they face when starting or building a business,” said Linda Rossi, VtSBDC Director. “The professors and law students share their expertise in a way that is understandable and approachable for small business owners at any stage of their business. In addition, they have provided helpful tools to VtSBDC’s advising team so that clients are prepared and confident when they do meet with an attorney.”
Vermont Law and Graduate School students who join the VLSell clinic are able to benefit from hands-on experience helping community members who need legal education assistance. VLSell gives students bar passage skills, improves their issue spotting acumen, and gives ample experience in dealing with corporations, torts, contracts, estate planning, and administrative law.
About Vermont Law and Graduate School: Vermont Law and Graduate School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation’s premier environmental law program. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Center for Justice Reform, Energy Clinic, Environmental Advocacy Clinic, Environmental Justice Clinic, Environmental Law Center, Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic and South Royalton Legal Clinic. For more information, visit www.vermontlaw.edu and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.