Editor’s note: Benji Jones and Jim Verdonik; Founders of Innovate Capital Law and Co-Directors of Campbell Law School’s Business Law Clinic located in HQ Raleigh’s warehouse district location discuss with Rich Leonard (Dean of Campbell Law School), Jason Widen (Co-founder and CEO of HQ Raleigh) and four entrepreneurs who graduated from the Clinic earlier this year.

JIM:  I’m so *$%! bored with this COVID stuff!  Isn’t there something exciting to do?

BENJI:  Well, isn’t launching the second cohort of our free Business Law Clinic exciting enough for you?

JIM:  I almost forgot.  How’s it going?

BENJI:  I’ve started circulating the application companies fill out and applications have started flowing in. Here’s the APPLICATION LINK.

JIM:  Apparently, people like the “Power of Free.”

BENJI: Yes, the Clinic is growing by 50% this semester.  We now have six Campbell Law School students to supervise in providing free legal services to start-up companies. Last year we only had four students. This increase will allow us to serve a dozen businesses this semester.

JIM:  How did we grow so much in the COVID crisis?

BENJI:  I’ll let Rich Leonard explain that.  In case you forgot, Rich is the Dean of Campbell Law School, who sends us the students who work in our Clinic.

RICH:  Our students are very excited about helping the next generation of the Research Triangle’s high-growth businesses launch.

JIM: Really.

RICH: Yes, you keep recruiting good businesses to work with and I’m sure Campbell Law School will always be able to provide enough students to serve them.

BENJI:  See Jim. All we need are good businesses who need free business legal services.  Isn’t that exciting enough for you?

JIM:  Maybe, but do we get a lot of Government money for hiring a bigger workforce?

BENJI:  No silly!  You only get Government money if you pay workers.  These students are working for free.

JIM:  #$&! Why can’t we get some of that free Government money?

BENJI:  We’re trying to help entrepreneurs build businesses and teach law students how to serve these types of clients.  The money doesn’t matter.

JIM: Really?


JIM: But . . . some of the Clinic Clients received more than $10,000 of free legal services last semester.

BENJI:  No buts!  Speaking about community give back more than money, let’s hear what our partner and collaborator HQ Raleigh has to say.

JASON:  The Free Clinic is a good example of the approach that is fundamental to HQ Raleigh’s business model.  It is our mission to provide the resources and connection to our members so that their organizations or businesses are successful and thereby contribute to both the social and economic fabric of our community.  Moreover we strive to do this with inclusivity in mind.  We want to support all types of businesses to thrive in our community.  As an entrepreneur I know first hand the importance of getting proper legal advise from the beginning.   For many this is cost prohibitive, especially in the early stages of starting a business, and he/she may not to get the appropriate advise which may cause issues later.   The clinic helps to overcome this barrier for many and provides a valuable resource in helping those that wouldn’t otherwise have access.

BENJI:  Speaking of Clinic clients, some of last semester’s Clinic clients are here to explain to how our students helped them.

MIKE:  Hi, I’m Mike Vaggalis, founder of Keepsake Tales.

BENJI:  Mike, what does Keepsake Tales do?

MIKE:  We make personalized children’s books.  Every child in the world has a unique story to create as they grow.  We remind them of that by making them the center of stories that our people write.

BENJI:  So, Mike, tell us about your experience as a Clinic client.

MIKE:  The clinic helped us to establish our legal infrastructure, ensuring that we are in a strong position to begin to grow our company. We are a true, bootstrapping start-up and working with the clinic allowed us to allocate important funding to product development, without giving up the legal guidance that we needed to begin our company. Jim and Benji are awesome mentors and, paired with the intellectual horsepower of the students, the clinic made for a remarkable opportunity. If you have the chance to work with the clinic, I would highly recommend!

JIM:  Mike, our students really enjoyed working with you at Keepsake Tales.  Glad we were able to help.

BENJI:  The Clinic also advised Rebecca Antonelli to help launch her company, DeAgify.  Rebecca, can you tell us about DeAgify and how the Clinic helped you.

REBECCA:  DeAgify is an online program and community that has everything a maturing woman needs to feel their best inside and out, every day.  The service and support from Campbell Law Clinic is instrumental for start-ups to create a solid business.  Students Kevin Latshaw ‘20 and Lindsey Reedy ‘20 under Jim and Benji’s supervision handled their roles and represented my interests with professionalism, energy and commitment.   The whole team worked hard to achieve the desired outcome that will serve me for years to come.  The team did everything from organizing my company to preparing contracts with customers and partners.  I couldn’t have done it without them.

BENJI:  Here’s Heather Clause, founder of a dating website and another Clinic client.  Heather, tell us about your business and your experience with the Clinic.

HEATHER:  I didn’t just receive legal advice, but peace of mind that I and my business are protected as we do business online and collaborate with people on books, online shows and more, to teach and connect people around the world.

JIM:  Heather you provided our students with a unique opportunity.  Some people think business law is boring, but helping clients is always exciting and rewarding.  Each client trusts us to help them achieve their dreams.  I know our students were happy to help you pursue your dream.

JIM: Finally, let’s talk to Afreen Allam of SiNON Therapeutics

AFREEN:  SiNON Therapeutics is working on creating a “Trojan Horse” for drug delivery to treat neurological diseases. We loved working with the Campbell Law Clinic as the students and Jim were very patient with us explaining all the legal terms. We come from a technical science background and are new to the legal field. As a start-up we had many questions that the team was able to address including introductions to accountants and providing advice to help SiNON move forward.  The team reorganized our structure to create better future tax treatment for us and our future investors.

BENJI:  Is there anything else Afreen?

AFREEN:  Yes, I intend to apply to the Clinic for more help this semester.

JIM:  Well, I guess that repeat customers are the best endorsement the Clinic can have! How can people apply or find out more?

BENJI:  Our online application can be accessed at this LINK .  Or they can email me at bjones@campbell.edu.