Startup Legal Garage

Now in its 5th year, the Startup Legal Garage, founded by a tenured professor at University of California Hastings College of the Law, is an innovative program in which law students provide legal work for early stage Tech and BioTech startups. The work is supervised for free by outside law firms, while the professors teach accompanying doctrinal and skills classes. Last year, the program included 57 supervising attorneys and 60 law students, who provided legal work for 65 startup companies. Startup Legal Garage companies come through the program's partnerships with numerous incubators including Y Combinator, Stanford Business School, QB3 (the incubator for UCSF, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz), Girls in Tech, and Black Founders. With a particular focus on promoting women entrepreneurs, Startup Legal Garage has received one of the inaugural "Innovator Awards" from the American Lawyer publications, was honored by the Association of American Law Schools as one of its "Innovative & Other Outstanding Programs," and has been featured in the American Bar Association Journal and other news outlets.

What We Do

Students in the Startup Legal Garage provide corporate and intellectual property work to early stage startup companies under the supervision of leading attorneys throughout the Bay Area. Ours is a unique program: students gain an in-depth understanding of the incentive structures that drive businesses outside of and in addition to the law; clients get high quality legal services supervised by leading practitioners in the field; and law firms gain access to a vibrant potential client base.

Working with community partners, students identify issues, engage in legal research, and solve problems with their clients and supervising attorneys. The Startup Legal Garage teaches students to become partners in enterprise and more than just “the lawyer in the room.” In a new approach to legal education, students bring their deals into the classroom, which allows faculty to harvest hypotheticals in real-time and bring the teaching of legal doctrine alive: an innovative education for an innovative community.

  • Tech Module. The Tech Module accepts legal projects through incubators such as Hackers and Founders, Women 2.0, Black Founders, Latino Startup Alliance, Open Technology Fund, Code for America, and Girls in Tech.
  • BioTech Module. The BioTech Module accepts clients from one incubator: The Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3). Students must have a graduate or undergraduate science degree to participate in the BioTech Module.

Who We Are

What Type of Clients Do We Work With?

  • Early stage technology and biotechnology companies sourced from incubators.
  • Clients range across industries, including but not limited to biotech, mobile, payments, gaming, identity protection, and fashion. We are particularly interested in spurring the emergence of legal tech startups.
  • The Startup Legal Garage is dedicated to supporting startups founded by women and minorities.

What Type of Students Participate?

  • Admission to participate in the Startup Legal Garage is highly selective and limited; students are selected based on past academic performance, completed course work, and demonstrated interest in the space. The program lasts for one academic year. Those selected are enrolled in a seminar course; receive grades based on performance; receive academic credit; and are overseen by a faculty member to provide doctrinal education. If you are a prospective student and would like to apply for the program, please see our student information page.

What Type of Work is Involved?

  • Students work on corporate and intellectual property projects including entity formation, structuring and developing an intellectual property strategy, and handling basic contract and personnel issues.
  • Students discuss their ongoing projects in a sanitized form in the classroom, with all confidential information removed.

To participate as a Law Firm Partner or Community Partner, please contact: Alice Armitage, at



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