Minnesota Law

Spring 2024
For the Record

Staying Connected While Helping Small Businesses Succeed

Several Minnesota Law alumni working at Stinson are volunteer supervising attorneys in the Business Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic

Adam Mikell ’23, Billy Price ’22, David Ezrilov ’94, Amy Conway ’10, and Zachary Taylor ’23
Photo: Tony Nelson

It didn’t take long for Adam Mikell ’23 to decide where he wanted to spend his time doing pro bono work—the Business Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic. After serving as the clinic’s student director in his last year at Minnesota Law, the corporate finance attorney in his first year at Stinson LLP has a special place in his heart for it.

“It was my favorite experience of law school,” Mikell says. “It was the best way to understand how to interact with clients. As a student attorney and student director, it was clear that the clinic couldn’t function without volunteers. Now that I'm in this position at Stinson, where I can volunteer and give back, I want to pay it forward.”

Students in the clinic provide transactional-based legal assistance to small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs while supervised by licensed business law or corporate attorneys. Six attorneys from Stinson, most of whom are also Minnesota Law alumni, volunteer with the clinic. 

Amy Conway ’10, a partner at Stinson and co-chair of the firm’s pro bono committee, started working with the clinic a year ago. She says that pro bono work is of “vast importance” to Stinson.

“We have people who take all kinds of different pro bono work,” says Conway. “We want people to be able to volunteer for matters that speak to their interests because that's what you're going to be passionate and excited about. So, for some people, it's helping smaller entities get access to legal advice that they wouldn't otherwise have so that they can focus on their mission and not have to put resources toward legal fees. It’s also a nice way to stay connected with the University, especially for us alumni.” 

Kiri Somermeyer, executive director of Minnesota Law’s Corporate Institute, which includes the Business Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic, says this clinic is unique in how it involves practicing business law attorneys to represent clients and supervise student attorneys. This model allows more students to take the semester-long course and gives them the opportunity to learn from practicing attorneys outside of the law school environment. Somermeyer says that for many students in the clinic, it’s the first time in law school that they have collaborated with their peers to accomplish common client goals. 

The Business Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic finds most clients through business development organizations such as the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD) and the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA). These nonprofits work with entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of whom are BIPOC, women, people with disabilities, or veterans.

“We work with a lot of diverse businesses,” Somermeyer says. “Many of those individuals often haven’t had access to legal services. They don’t have a friend who is a lawyer who can help them, or they're a low-income business and can't afford to hire a lawyer to help them set up a company or draft an agreement.” 

For Mikell and other volunteer attorneys, working with the Clinic is an opportunity to serve as a mentor to law students. And, since he’s early in his law career, he is also paired with a supervising partner from his firm, which gives him an opportunity to learn from more senior attorneys while helping the student attorneys and clients.

“The clinic serves as a great reminder of all the good that we can do with our education and training,” Mikell says. “The impact we can have feels very tangible. It’s not just drafting a contract or drafting a lease. You’re helping someone with their lifelong dream of owning a company. It’s a deeper connection. You’re learning their stories and what they want to accomplish.”