Impact law forum 1/2013 (1)Impact Law Forum (ILF), a San Francisco Bay area social enterprise law practice group, held its latest meeting in Silicon Valley this past week.

Impact Law Forum’s 3rd Meeting

On Thursday evening, January 24th 2012, a group of over a dozen legal minds spanning backgrounds in entrepreneurship law, public health policy, environmental law, solo practice, non-profit law, corporate counsel, and social enterprise law filled a cozy room in the StartX offices in Palo Alto.

Held at StartX, a Stanford Initiative

StartX, run by Stanford University, is an innovative accelerator program for startups that have at least one founder affiliated with Stanford and who are selected through an application process. It is one of the unique programs that requests no equity from its participants. And, by leveraging Stanford’s vast network of mentors, venture capitalists, and resources it positions startups for early-stage success. In fact, 85% of StartX companies have successfully raised funding.

Impact law forum 1/2013 (2)With standing room only, Impact Law Forum Co-Founder Zoe Hunton, of Hunton Law, welcomed the group and introduced the evening’s speaker Tony Lai and Pieter Gunst—Co-Founders of LawGives, a startup that was developed and launched in StartX.

Featuring the Founding Team of LawGives

LawGives is a social enterprise startup seeking to broaden access to legal information for social entrepreneurs. It is a product of the StartX accelerator. Tony and his founding partner Pieter developed the idea together after they met during their LL.M studies at Stanford. They both have practice experience— Tony practiced law in England and Hong Kong, and Pieter practiced with a large firm in Palo Alto. Since their time in the StartX accelerator, they continue to iterate and innovate the offerings of LawGives.

In their presentation for Impact Law Forum, Tony and Pieter provided an in-depth overview of the concept behind LawGives and the tools that were part of the 1.0 version of the site. They spoke candidly about their startup journey, what they have learned along the way, and about the process of building site elements, testing, and then shifting their products and services based on feedback of users, attorneys, and potential backers.

After the demo of the site, the focus shifted from introducing LawGives to an open discussion about what draws attorneys to working with startups, non-profits, and social enterprises and what pain points are experienced in the process.

The diversity of backgrounds and experience in law lent to a robust conversation and exchange of viewpoints.

Impact law forum 1/2013 (3)
Around the Room

The session concluded with introductions from each of the attendees along with sharing what would make a legal practice group for social entrepreneur legal practitioners a valuable group to participate in.  Reasons for engaging included:

  • meet other attorneys and social enterprise thought partners
  • connect with others on public policy supporting social entrepreneurs
  • find pro bono law opportunities in the area
  • find attorneys to do pro bono work
  • understand the social enterprise law sector from an academic perspective
  • explore social innovation law
  • meet cool people doing cool things
Stay tuned for more updates on Impact Law Forum, events, and ways to get involved.

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