Practice Areas

Areas of Practice

The Community Law & Business Clinic focuses on the following areas of practice:

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The Community Law & Business Clinic provides a wide array of legal services in several practice areas. However, please note that the clinic cannot provide counsel on the following legal issues:

  • Family law
  • Criminal law
  • Patents

As businesses grow and develop, the need to distinguish your business from similar entities arises. The creation of intellectual property can make your business stand out from the crowd and garner a reputation within the community and abroad. The process begins with the creation of artwork, a phrase, name or other work of authorship to represent the company. To get the most out of your intellectual property, registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a must. Federal protection provides significant benefits to the owners of intellectual property. State registration is also available. With the registration process comes questions such as what is a trademark compared to a copyright, how to register, whether someone else is claiming ownership of the same or similar intellectual property, and what to do when someone else is using your intellectual property. Protecting your intellectual property can be a daunting process but it well worth the effort.

The Community Law & Business Clinic provides assistance to those seeking federal or state protection of their intellectual property. Our assistance includes:

  • Guidance – benefits of federal or state protection.
  • Mark Search – determine whether another organization is claiming ownership of the trademark or service mark used by your organization.
  • Filing – assistance drafting and filing trademark, service mark or copyright applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Response – assistance responding to a rejection of your application by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Cancelation – advise on the feasibility of canceling a current owner’s rights in their intellectual property.
  • Disputes – advise on what to do when an organization is using your intellectual property or you are sued for the same.

Consumer transactions constitute one of the major building blocks of our economy and, as a result, the legal issues associated with them play an outsized role in people’s interactions with the legal system. Despite the consumer protection laws designed to keep such transactions simple, they can oftentimes be confusing and difficult to deal with. One has to look no further than the mortgage crisis to see that a seemingly simple process of modifying a mortgage can become a time-consuming and frustrating exercise.

The Clinic’s consumer transactions practice covers areas such as foreclosures, consumer disputes and contract issues.

Nonprofit organizations and social ventures encounter a range of legal and tax compliance issues. From concept to start-up to operations, these organizations can face unique and challenging problems. The governance and management of the nonprofit organization often involve large groups of stakeholders who are most often volunteers, requiring efficient committee and board structures as well as governance procedures. As nonprofits become increasingly entrepreneurial, questions arise around Unrelated Business Taxable Income and hybrid organizational structures, such as the L3C. Contracts, employment agreements, tax compliance issues, lobbying limitations and trademark concerns regularly face the operating nonprofit organization. Finally, increasing state oversight and changing IRS regulations require diligent maintenance of records and licensure requirements. As anyone familiar with the nonprofit sector knows, successfully running a nonprofit organization or social venture requires both a passion for the work as well as a deep understanding of the legal and tax regimes that face these organizations.

The Community Law & Business Clinic provides an extensive range of services to nonprofit organizations and social ventures. Our assistance includes:

  • Entity formation and governance – advising clients on forming new entities and developing effective boards.
  • Contract Review – contract formation and review in employment, real estate and commercial areas.
  • Tax Compliance – IRS regulatory compliance for both new and established 501 entities.
  • Intellectual Property – advise on trademark and copyright issues
  • Unrelated Business Taxable Income – planning to comply with UBTI and related issues
  • Lobbying and Advocacy – insuring nonprofit organizations can maintain an effective voice while complying with IRS regulations
  • Licenses – state solicitation license compliance
  • Employment Law – employee classification, nondisclosure and compensation issues

Small businesses—those with less than 500 employees— occupy an outsized place in our economy and in our communities. They consistently provide more jobs than large firms during times of employment growth and provide roughly half of all private-sector jobs. North Carolina is no exception: in 2011, the state had over 800,000 small businesses, which created 2/3 of all new jobs. The Wake Forest Community Law & Business Clinic is committed to making quality legal services available to these small businesses and entrepreneurs free of charge.

Startups and small businesses face a range of legal issues. From protecting your ideas from infringement, to the feasibility of your business model, choice of entity and even employment-related matters, navigating the legal issues of a small business or startup can be daunting. Additional regulatory complexities associated with laws like Sarbanes-Oxley and the Affordable Care Act can make the compliance burden seem heavy indeed.

But the Clinic is here to help. We have a wide range of services available to entrepreneurs and small business owners, including:

  • Assessment of business model and business/corporate structure
  • Choice of business entity
  • Creation of business entities
  • Creating partnerships and partnership agreements
  • Drafting or modifying bylaws and operating agreements
  • Reviewing, drafting or negotiating contracts and contractual clauses
  • Reviewing leases or real property transactions
  • Small business/startup financing
  • Compliance with regulatory issues
  • Intellectual property registration, protection and licensing
  • Employment law compliance