Professor Myra Tawfik supervises legal triage for EPIC Startups

EPICentre’s EPIC Legal Triage has wrapped up another successful semester of connecting University of Windsor Law students with our EPIC Startups.

Under Professor Myra Tawfik’s supervision, 6 law students provided valuable information and coaching to 12 EPICentre startup members covering aspects of business law and intellectual property law over the course of the Winter 2020 semester. Although uur EPIC Legal Triage service does not provide legal advice, it has assisted startups in identifying their IP and business-related legal issues.

Along with Professor Tawfik, each law student was paired with a startup to offer them guidance to ensure that their legal needs were addressed. Law students who participated in this program benefited from real-world experience working with a start-up clientele and helping them with their IP strategy.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when we launched the legal triage service” explained Professor Tawfik “but, as the term comes to a close, I am now more convinced than ever of the value of this experiential community outreach model. For the start-up community, legal triage offers a helping hand to coach and guide new ventures through the many legal issues that arise as they build their businesses, especially in the areas of intellectual property law and business law.”

Not only did our EPIC startups receive valuable information and guidance in their entrepreneurial journey, but the triage service also allowed Professor Tawfik’s students to gain real world experience. “The Triage service was an amazing learning opportunity and I believe helpful to many start-ups!” Said Sofia Skara, University of Windsor J.D. Candidate 2021 “The service not only provided me with the ability to apply my legal knowledge but showcased the importance of bridging the knowledge gap between start-ups and law. An entrepreneur’s ideas can be protected through legal tools (including IP layering) and holds the potential to strengthen a company’s growth capability. I am excited to see how this program continues to evolve over the coming years.”

The experience that these students have gained allowed them to take on new challenges and gain a better understanding of what it takes to build a successful startup. “For law students, this experience sensitizes them to the particular legal needs of the entrepreneurial community, especially at the start-up stage.” said Professor Tawfik “I believe it is especially important for lawyers to be responsive and nimble in providing services to this group because our country depends on small and medium enterprises for our economic well-being.”

Some of the law students even developed their own interest in the entrepreneurial journey in the process, like Homira Haqani, Canadian & American Dual J.D. Student at the University of Windsor and University of Detroit Mercy. “Having the opportunity to provide legal triage services to EPICentre’s startups has been an immensely rewarding experience. Not only was I able to gain practical, hands-on skills and a better understanding of the challenges and diverse needs of start-ups, but I also developed an interest and passion for entrepreneurship and innovation. I strongly recommend other students interested in IP and business law to take advantage of this experiential learning opportunity.”

All in all, the legal triage was a huge success on both ends. “The law students who participated in this course are now able to recognize the particular challenges of business start-ups especially in relation to

generating and protecting their IP.” said Professor Tawfik “They will now be able to provide IP strategic advice once they graduate and enter the profession. I was incredibly proud of the professionalism and skills my students exhibited in assisting twelve EPICentre start-ups this semester. Even in the midst of the pandemic, their dedication has been exemplary.

Read this story on the EPICentre website.