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Hastings Alumni Mag-Spring 2014

{ ENTERPRISE } The Startup Legal Garage An innovative program matches law students with tech entrepreneurs—with win-win results. 20 SPRING 2014 ack in 2012, Aditya Mohan was in the early stages of forming his startup, a social mobile platform. Called Skive it, the company provides consumers a way to preview nightclubs, beaches, hotel rooms, and shops before spending the time and money to actually go there. The platform offers real-time video reviews with personalized rankings based on user taste. The idea, Mohan believed, would give users a virtual way to determine a place’s vibe, a sort of try-before-you-buy approach. Mohan knew a lot about contracts and licensing, having once worked in business development at Oracle, where he closely observed lawyers during acquisitions. But he lacked some crucial knowledge to get his business off the ground. He needed legal advice, but he didn’t have “even a couple of thousand dollars” to pay a lawyer, he says. “I was not even paying myself.” After consulting legal and online resources, he was able to incorporate Skive it himself, but the real leap forward didn’t happen until he attended a workshop put on by UC Hastings’ Privacy and Technology Project. There, he says, “I had that kind of change-your-life good fortune” to meet Charles Belle ’10, the executive director of UC Hastings’ Institute for Innovation Law. At the time, Belle was expanding the institute’s new Startup Legal Garage, a program that matched needy startup founders with eager tech-lawyersto be. In chatting with Mohan, Belle determined that Skive it met all of the program’s potential client requirements: a consumer-based startup with little to no funding that had critical legal problems. “It was the perfect test case,” Belle recalls. “The founder was trying to follow the rules and needed a lot of work. He was overwhelmed, but hiring lawyers was too expensive.” Tech Trailblazer The program is the brainchild of Professor Robin Feldman, director of the Institute for Innovation Law, which was named by PreLaw magazine as one of the 25 most innovative programs in the country. She’d been talking with law firms about what skills students needed after graduation and realized that students with firsthand tech-law experience would be at a competitive advantage in this booming sector. “We’re in the middle of the tech and biotech mecca of the universe,” she says. “Students should know how to serve this community. With Startup Legal Garage, we’re giving them the resources to “I learned the nature of client service—that you have to get it right and be responsive. It was the most applicable work I did in law school. ” —Christopher Masterson ’13


Hastings Alumni Mag-Spring 2014
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