Central Valley Ventures

Central Valley Ventures (CVV) Legal Assistance Network

Background: The CVV Legal Assistance Network will provide free legal advice to entrepreneurs across the Central Valley region. UC Berkeley law students are mentored by regional attorneys who are equipped with tools provided by UC Berkeley School of Law. Law students are provided with field training, while regional attorneys are given the tools to diversify their practice and achieve pro bono assistance goals.

How it addresses entrepreneurial needs: A key ingredient in entrepreneurial success is confidence. CVV provides legal advice to help entrepreneurs develop confidence in their decisions as they forge ahead, and because the advice is free, they are able to get advice at a critical early stage in their company’s development. Armed with this advice, entrepreneurs can feel confident that they can avoid legal pitfalls that could distract them from their primary goals.

How it helps startups achieve financial viability: Conserving funds is crucial for the success of startups. Because the legal assistance is free, the program assists in promoting financial viability. How it helps startups achieve technological viability: Access to legal aid that is tailored to their needs, at no cost, allows them to invest their resources in developing technologies and make better decisions about where to spend their money.

How it leverages UC Merced: UC students and UC researchers who are seeking to launch companies are among those who will benefit from the free legal assistance, enabling more companies to be launched from the university due to low/no cost.

How it leverages California strengths and resources: CVV has partnered with the CSU Fresno Office of Community and Economic Development to ensure that rural entrepreneurs in the region will have access to the program. Attorneys in the region will be recruited to participate in the program as mentors and counselors, allowing them to build and diversify their practices while satisfying their pro bono obligations.

Implementation: An MOU has been signed between UC Merced and the UC Berkeley School of Law to cooperatively support the development of this program. The funds received under this grant will be used to support program staff, three annual events, and the development of a website portal that will provide tools to attorneys in the region. Recruited attorneys will oversee law student counseling sessions with entrepreneurs, either in person or through video conferencing.