Students in Villanova Law’s six in-house clinics develop their skills through work with real clients. For Liam Leyden ’17 and Eliese Herzl-Betz ’17 that meant working with IAmElemental—a startup company that creates female action figures inspired by everyday “superpowers” like bravery, honesty, and persistence—on compliance and licensing in the Clinic for Law and Entrepreneurship.
“In law school, you typically apply the law to hypothetical situations,” said Herzl-Betz. “But with a real startup client with complex needs, the interplay of law and business is more pronounced. IAmElemental was a fun and exciting client to have because they have a message that they want reflected in every area of their business.”
The Clinic for Law and Entrepreneurship provides pro bono legal representation to entrepreneurs, small businesses and social ventures. Acting as lead counsel to their clients, Leyden and Herzl-Betz were responsible for presenting IAmElemental with options and guidance that company leadership could understand and act on to achieve its business goals. The students researched the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in order to advise their client on compliance matters as well as with discrete licensing issues. The hands-on learning was an unparalleled experience.
The students’ representation afforded them the opportunity to learn from their client. "Being entrepreneurial does not necessarily require a person to take on the risk of starting and running a new business,” Leyden said. “It merely requires a person to strive to find and improve upon individual areas of discomfort, uncertainty, or inexperience—wherever those areas might exist. Ultimately, my clinic experience encouraged me to be more entrepreneurial in that way, which will help me in my understanding of the law throughout my career."
The clinic experiences also greatly benefitted IAmElemental.
”From the first meeting, Liam and Eliese were very professional and knowledgeable, coming to the meeting with research and an agenda. You wouldn’t know that they were law students,” remarked Veenita Bleznak, COO of IAmElemental. “Time is scarce when you work at a startup. We’re a new company and brand awareness is important. Liam and Eliese came to me with suggestions to promote the brand, as well as website changes and improvements that would put us in compliance with COPPA. I was really fortunate to work with the students, as they took care of things that I did not have time to get to.”
Through the clinical experience, Leyden and Herzl-Betz learned from each other and their fellow students. Weekly clinic classes allowed them to discuss their case with other students and provided them immediate feedback and a fresh perspective.
“Our clinic classes really amplified the experience,” said Herzl-Betz. “I was learning concepts not to just use them for an exam or essay, but to apply them immediately to a real-world client issue.”
In concert with The John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship, the Clinic advances Villanova Law’s commitment to educate lawyers who understand both the business of law and the needs of company clients. With support, supervision and individualized mentoring from faculty, participating students advise both for-profit and nonprofit enterprises.