UH Law Center clinic provides legal expertise to Third Ward redevelopment effort

Christopher Heard, director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, discusses a non-profit project with Mikayla Martinez 2L, left, and Nneka Morah 3L.

Christopher Heard, director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, discusses a non-profit project with Mikayla Martinez 2L, left, and Nneka Morah 3L.

Oct. 10, 2016 — A clinical program at the University of Houston Law Center will play an integral role in a major initiative by the university to help revitalize and develop its immediate neighborhood, Houston's Third Ward.

UH President Renu Khator announced the plan to support efforts in education, arts, health and economic development during her annual fall progress report last week.

"I want to stress that our engagement in Third Ward is not purely academic; it is being undertaken with the purpose of empowering the community to transform itself.  I urge you to learn about these and many other projects currently underway and get involved," Khator said. 

The Law Center's Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic will be working with the UH Bauer College of Business to help jump-start small businesses. In collaboration with Bauer's SURE Program ("Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship), the Law Center clinic will provide advice and representation to entrepreneurs and budding business men and women on legal matters that arise in the start-up process. Second- and third-year law students will work directly with clients under the close supervision of a faculty member.

"I am very proud of the Entrepreneur Clinic's role in working with our neighbors in the Third Ward," said Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes. "It is my vision to ensure that the Law Center continues to be a vital and important partner to the larger Houston community whether uptown, downtown, midtown or anywhere in town.  With our joint efforts with Bauer, our faculty and students will be able to work with the Third Ward neighbors to foster and harness their entrepreneurial spirit."

"I am very excited about our new partnership with the SURE Program," said visiting Assistant Professor Christopher Heard who directs the clinic. "It is a wonderful opportunity for clinic students to gain hands-on experience representing entrepreneurs and small businesses, while simultaneously contributing to the economic empowerment initiatives under way in the Third Ward.

"By providing needed legal representation and participating in the superb educational programs offered by SURE, our student attorneys will support the SURE entrepreneurs who are establishing and strengthening businesses in our community."

Students enrolled in the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, formerly known as the Transactional Clinic, also will attend classes throughout the semester to discuss issues facing their clients and to gain a solid understanding of contract drafting and other skills necessary to become a successful transactional attorney.

"The clinic accepts up to 11 students each semester and they typically will work with three or four different clients," Heard explained. "We represent a wide variety of start-ups.  For example, some of our current clients include tutoring services, general contractors and a bridal boutique."  

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