There is no definitive body of market insights that sheds light on the true nature of the pro bono and low bono “markets” for entrepreneurship law and supports well-informed policy development for budding entrepreneurs of modest financial needs or other disadvantages. Through the EshipLaw network in the U.S., and the iLINC network in Europe, collectively numbering almost 200 clinics, the LTL Community has unique, direct “on the ground” access to valuable sets of data on entrepreneurs and start-ups and their barriers to innovation and to venture launch and sustainability.
This project leverages existing clinic datasets, creates new ones with systematic approaches and standards for the collection, maintenance and dissemination of relevant data, and seeks to identify, develop, and circulate policy recommendations designed to help eliminate or lessen barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship, with special focus on currently disadvantaged individuals, groups, and communities. We will seek and produce insights on such potential barriers as: (i) insufficient access to affordable legal services in general and of particular types, (ii) unduly complex, inefficient or inequitable regulatory processes (at various levels of government); (iii) difficulties in obtaining start-up capital; and (iv) other economic or societal factors that may pose obstacles to successful entrepreneurship. . Examples of specific types of data the project targets are:
- What types of circumstances are inhibiting the startup and growth of entrepreneurial ventures—e.g., non-compete restrictions in employment agreements signed by innovators/would-be entrepreneurs?; onerous permitting/licensing requirements, processes and/or fees?; visa restrictions?; lack of access to capital or lack of knowledge as to potential sources of capital, tax incentives, etc.?; other circumstances?
- To what extent are would-be entrepreneurs unable to affordably access needed legal services, even when nearby a law school entrepreneurship clinic or law firm that assists would-be entrepreneurs of modest current financial means—e.g., because of clinic/law firm volume of manageable workload limitations, or because many clinics/firms do not regularly provided legal services on some significant types of law, such as patent prosecutions, detailed tax planning, or other types of law/lawyering?
- To what extent are barriers uncovered in (1) and (2) more prevalent with respect to particular individuals, groups, communities, or types of business than with respect to others?
Through analyzing the datasets being compiled, we should be able to establish a stronger evidence base for:
- Better matching of services offered with services required – ‘closing the market gap’.
- Supporting / initiating changes in laws and regulations that impact entrepreneurs and start-ups--i.e., policy making at a local, regional or national level.
The data insights obtained and policy recommendations developed will be widely disseminated for use by researchers entrepreneurship ecosystem builders, facilitators of innovation and venture startup and growth, and policy makers.
As of the end of October, 2017 this project has made significant progress. We have successfully recruited 11 U.S.-based entrepreneurship law clinics, and through collaborative working:
- Undertaken an analysis of existing datasets, exploring both scope of data as well as homogeneity; and
- Developed questionnaires, directed in the first instance at the clinic directors and their colleagues, and thereafter at the entrepreneurs.
- Initiated a 2 Phase assessment, design, and implementation plan with the SELC.