UW Law’s Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (ELC) and Washington Pro Bono Patent Network have provided myriad PNW entrepreneurs and start-ups with the tools they need to bring their entrepreneurial visions to life.

As one of UW Law’s 11 clinics, the ELC pairs law and business students with pro bono attorneys and business advisors. The clinic is directed by UW Law Professor Jennifer Fan.

In 2017, with assistance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the clinic took a leadership role in running the Network, which matches financially under-resourced inventors in Washington state with volunteer patent attorneys. The two work together on various cases.

Hear firsthand from recent participants and clients as they share what they gained from their experiences.

Byron Greene, LL.M. in Intellectual Property Candidate
Clinic Student

Prior to enrolling in the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, Greene served as a judge advocate in the Air Force for 15 years. His role was to aid the mission of the Air Force by providing comprehensive legal advice to commanders on topics including criminal, employment, administrative and operational law.

After leaving the Air Force in 2020, Greene began working toward his goal of attending UW Law’s Intellectual Property LL.M. program and become a patent attorney in the Seattle area.

“I was thrilled for the opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic as a way of gaining practical experience and recalibrating to life as a civilian attorney,” he says.

“My participation in the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic was one of the highlights of my time in UW's Intellectual Property LL.M. program. The experience exposed me to innovative clients, ground-breaking technologies, experienced mentors and a collaborative learning environment cultivated by Professor Fan and fellow students.”

"I was thrilled for the opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic as a way of gaining practical experience and recalibrating to life as a civilian attorney."

Greene says that during his time in the clinic, he grew as a person, developed practical lawyering skills and honed his ability to perform in a transactional legal setting. The sense of community he experienced contributed to a feeling of purpose that transcended other law school experiences.

“The fact that these experiences were made possible in a remote learning environment is a testament to Professor Fan and the outstanding clients, students and supervising attorneys who participate in the clinic,” Greene says.

Chris Huggins, Client

Huggins reached out to the ELC for help filing a federal trademark application, which was just recently registered as of this writing. While working with the ELC, he was also provided with a comprehensive business and legal audit. He had the following to say about his experience:

“It has been my absolute pleasure working with the ELC. I have met some pretty incredible young professionals who represent the UW Entrepreneurial Law Clinic admirably. It speaks volumes to a great leadership and mentorship program.”

Lindy Laurence, J.D. ‘20, LL.M. in Taxation Candidate
Clinic Student

During her time in the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, Laurence gained a wealth of experience providing clients with targeted advice regarding the corporate and IP aspects of their business.

She says that working with the clinic empowers entrepreneur-clients to move their business idea ahead with confidence, knowing that they have the information and counsel to navigate their business through the early stages.

“These services are critical to helping entrepreneurs fully understand how to establish and grow their business while protecting their intellectual property,” Laurence says. “In my time with the ELC, I’ve had the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs from high tech ventures, microenterprises and nonprofit organizations. I’ve learned how to apply legal principles to different business scenarios, and I’ve had the opportunity to dive deep into some issues clients were facing to help them find solutions.”

Laurence says that she found working with entrepreneurs to be particularly rewarding because of the excitement and enthusiasm they bring to the table. That in turn, she says, sparks her own passion for her work.

“It’s really satisfying to know that someone benefitted from help I was able to offer through the ELC,” she says.

Rebecca Paley-Williams, 3L
Clinic Student

Paley-Williams says that gaining real-world client experience through the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (ELC) has been the highlight of her time in law school.

“Working with entrepreneurs to understand their businesses and listening to their questions has better equipped me to identify startup legal issues for future practice,” she says. “Drafting the audit memo allowed me to explore legal topics that I hadn’t encountered through law school classes and to improve legal research skills.”

"Overall, the ELC serves as an invaluable capstone experience for corporate and IP students and provides a bridge to transactional practice."

Paley-Williams said that Fan's efforts to develop and cultivate key community relationships has been instrumental in expanding the ELC's services to a wider audience and accelerating the clinic's growth as a leading diversity-focused pro bono legal service provider.

“Professor Fan's dedication to public service has allowed students to engage with community-focused projects and provide meaningful legal support for entrepreneurs from historically marginalized backgrounds,” Paley-Williams says.

“The opportunity to work with and learn from some of the leading Seattle-based corporate and IP attorneys has been another highlight of the clinic. Overall, the ELC serves as an invaluable capstone experience for corporate and IP students and provides a bridge to transactional practice. I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to be involved!”

Archer Wu, 3L
Clinic Student

The ELC provided me the most authentic and inclusive experiences to act as a lawyer,” Wu says. “Working under our supervising attorneys, we provided the clients with critical early-stage legal and business assistance, which many entrepreneurs need. The best moment is to think like a lawyer and to give the clients a legal perspective in their decision-making process.

“The ELC is always challenging and exciting. It enabled me to reflect on my interests and capability. It helped me to identify the gap between the knowledge I gained from textbooks and real-world practice.”

The Network connected Benjamin Trudeau with volunteer attorney Jack Chang to provide assistance with drafting and filing the budding inventor’s patent application.

Jack Chang, Volunteer Attorney
Intellectual Property Attorney, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Chang is an intellectual property attorney with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP who assisted Trudeau with his patent application. He says his favorite part about volunteering with the Washington Pro Bono Patent Network was being able to follow an invention and patent from start to finish, which is different than most of his projects.

Jack says he enjoyed working with someone who was new and excited about the patent process, and he looks forward to future volunteering opportunities with the Network.

Benjamin Trudeau, Client

Trudeau reached out to the Washington Pro Bono Patent Network in the hopes of getting help with filing a patent. Having no prior experience with the process, he was nervous about how much the application would cost and how technical the process would be.

“I’m not connected to a company and have no other people involved, so I’m glad that I was able to find a resource,” he says.

"My favorite part about working with the Pro Bono Patent Network was the very first time I sat down with my attorney. He gave me hope that I actually had an idea that I could patent."

After submitting his application to the Network in the spring, he heard back within two weeks and was able to move forward with two appointed attorneys. With their help, his patent was successfully filed that fall.

“My favorite part about working with the Pro Bono Patent Network was the very first time I sat down with my attorney,” Trudeau says. “He gave me hope that I actually had an idea that I could patent.”

Trudeau says he felt very much in the loop and communicated with throughout the application process and would absolutely recommend the Network to others. He does not think that he could have successfully completed a patent application without outside help.

Trudeau also felt that the volunteer attorneys and the Network made this process easy all the way through. He was very happy with the legal assistance he received and did not feel as if he was a pro bono client because of the time and attention he received from his attorneys. “I definitely never felt like I was a lesser client in that regard,” he says.

Learn more about the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and how to get involved.

Learn about the Washington Pro Bono Patent Network and how to get involved.