Legal Assistance

If you have a quick legal question, or are looking for legal information, you can sign up for a 15-min appointment to meet with the Entrepreneurship Clinic. DNEP offers more long-term legal support through the U-M Community Enterprise Clinic. Many small businesses qualify for pro-bono legal assistance through the Community Enterprise Clinic.

  • Overview: If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you can email Barb Vibbert at the Entrepreneurship Clinic at to schedule a 15-minute appointment and get legal information. Note that the Entrepreneurship Clinic can only provide general legal information and not specific legal advice.

    Services: The Entrepreneurship Clinic can help answer business questions like the following:

    • What are the practical differences between LLCs and corporations? 
    • What is involved in the entity formation process?
    • What makes a brand “trademarkable?”
    • What are some of the common legal issues in founder relationships?
    • What should I be considering when deciding between hiring an employee or independent contractor?

    Cost: Free

    Time commitment: 15 minutes

    Eligibility: Any Detroit-based small business owner or entrepreneur.

    Do I need to sign up, fill out an application, or write a proposal?
    Sign up. To sign-up for a 15-minute appointment, email Barb Vibbert at the Entrepreneurship Clinic at

    Deadline: No deadline. You can sign-up for appointment times year round.

    Contact Barb Vibbert at Learn more about the Entrepreneurship Clinic at their website.

    Overview: Detroit small business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-ups can receive legal assistance through U-M Community Enterprise Clinic (CEC).

    Services: The CEC team will solve your most pressing legal needs. In the past, businesses have worked with the CEC team in the following legal areas:

    • Contract negotiations
    • Lease agreement review
    • Drafting of ownership agreements
    • Trademarking of names and logos

    Cost: Free

    Time commitment: As a CEC client, you are required to maintain regular communication with the CEC team. The length of the project is dependent on the scope of work and on how long the legal work takes to complete. You can remain a CEC client until your legal work is finished.

    Eligibility: You must be a Detroit-based small business, entrepreneur, or start-up.

    Do I need to sign up, fill out an application, or write a proposal?
    Application. To apply, fill out the application here. Short-listed businesses will be invited to interview with U-M faculty and students to assess their needs and ultimately determine a scope work.

    Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Typically, new clients begin in September each year.

    Set up a meeting with Christie Baer here. Learn more about the Community Enterprise Clinic at their website.