Turner Family Community Free Enterprise Clinic: 2021-22 Annual Review

Sep 23, 2022

The Turner Family Community Enterprise Clinic launched in 2018 as an experiential course at Vanderbilt Law School. Students enrolled in the Clinic gain transactional lawyering skills and experience through the representation of entrepreneurs and community organizations in Middle Tennessee. The Clinic’s goals are to teach substantive law and practice strategies, give students the opportunity to apply their skills in the public interest, and facilitate inclusive economic and community development.

Client Service

We’re back! The Clinic resumed normal operations after more than a year of virtual and hybrid lawyering. Students embraced the opportunity to engage their clients and community in person, tackling economic and social inequities amplified by the pandemic. The Clinic represented neighborhoods, veterans, immigrants, and a broad spectrum of other clients in complex transactional matters.

Jake Moeller (’22) and Katie Schelli (‘22) represented Voces de Nashville, an early-stage worker cooperative that provides Spanish language instruction to the community. Because Tennessee does not have a cooperative business statute, the students advised on ways to integrate cooperative enterprise principles into an LLC. They drafted the LLC operating agreement, structuring it for optimal tax and employment law treatment. Katie and Jake also created an electronic tool for the co-op to track its workers’ capital accounts and patronage distributions. Finally, they drafted template services agreements for the cooperative’ individual and business classes.

Kat Denney (’22) and Michael Regard (’22) represented a neighborhood organization in a rapidly transitioning area of Nashville. They drafted a community benefits agreement (CBA), whereby the organization pledges support for a proposed development in the neighborhood in exchange for promises to provide affordable housing, green space, affordable rent for new local businesses, and other benefits for the community. Kat and Michael also advised the client on matters concerning property taxes, compliance with Section 501(c)(3), and a potential merger with an affordable housing provider.

MaryKate Kustas (’22) and Jie Shi (’22) aided Café Momentum Nashville, a nonprofit restaurant that will provide rehabilitation and workforce development for youth who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The students drafted template contracts for the client’s pop-up events, referral partnerships, and volunteers. They also prepared a compliance manual with legal guidance on employment, licensing, and fundraising matters.

Lorenzo Fernandez (’22) and Tom Garrott (’22) worked with a Nashville welding and fabrication business that is starting an apprenticeship program for underserved youth. The students transitioned the longtime sole proprietorship into an LLC. They also prepared an advisory memo on ways to structure the apprenticeship program for the greatest tax and fundraising benefits. Finally, they prepared a contract for welding and fabrication services that will set expectations and protect the business.

Jonathan Gorton (‘22) and William Johnson (’22) represented Galactic Polymath, a social enterprise that helps scientists translate complex research into digestible lessons for middle and high school students. Jonathan and William drafted a template services agreement that can be adapted for university, government, and business funded research. They also prepared an agreement for the client’s independent contractors and advised on the distinction between contractors and employees.

Nick Mack (’22) and Ashley Wu (’22) assisted a veteran-owned personal training company. They drafted services agreements for the client’s adult and minor customers. They also prepared a legal manual to guide the client’s future operations, summarizing the client’s tax obligations, risk management best practices, trademark matters, and rules for operating out-of-state. Finally, Nick and Ashley reviewed and advised on the client’s agreements with recreation facilities where it provides services.

Sam Kim (’21) and Olivia Martinsen (’22) worked with a family business that provides virtual administrative services to businesses. Sam and Olivia drafted a template contract for the client to use with its customers, as well as an independent contractor agreement of the client’s freelancers. They also prepared a legal compliance and risk management manual for the client, addressing topics ranging from their tax filing obligations to data breach notification laws.

Advanced Clinic

In the spring, several Clinic alums returned as advanced students for a more independent lawyering experience.

Nick Mack (’22) provided startup assistance to two nonprofits. One nonprofit will rehabilitate and preserve property believed to be the burial ground of enslaved people in East Tennessee. The other provides peer support for people with autism spectrum disorder.

Jake Moeller (’22) assisted a neighborhood association that coordinates mutual aid and youth services. He advised the organization on ways to structure its relationship with other community groups, including whether to seek a merger or a group tax exemption.

Katie Schelli (’22) represented a neighborhood association that works for sustainable development and environmental protection in a rural Middle Tennessee community. She advised the organization on whether to obtain 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.

Community Legal Education

The Clinic partners with community organizations to offer legal education workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs. During the 2021-22 school year, the Clinic conducted virtual workshops for the community through the following partners:

  • Corner to Corner operates an affordable 10-week Academy to prepare micro-entrepreneurs to launch a business. The Clinic presented small business legal basics to several cohorts.
  • The Elmahaba Center provides holistic programming for the Arab American community in Nashville. Each Clinic livestream attracted over 1,000 listeners!

The Turner Family Community Enterprise Clinic is directed by Associate Clinical Professor Lauren Rogal. She holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. Before joining Vanderbilt, she was an associate at the boutique D.C. firm of Klamp & Associates, P.C. and a clinical teaching fellow in the Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center.

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