Thinking Like Entrepreneurs: Qlegal’s Experience of Teaching Law Students to have an Entrepreneurial Mindset
To advise a client you need to understand what they do. To provide truly innovative, client-centred advice, you also need to understand how they think. These observations are especially true when working with entrepreneurs who may be otherwise inclined to move forward with their business with or without legal guidance.
Entrepreneurs are distinguished by their growth mindset and resilience, appetite for innovation and comfort with taking risks and doing things themselves. As the legal marketplace in the UK becomes increasingly competitive (due to legal technology and the growing number of alternative legal service providers), law students need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset themselves, both to navigate the legal marketplace
for their own careers and to provide commercially aware legal services to their clients. Law schools need to teach law students to think like entrepreneurs, and commercial law clinics provide the natural setting.
This paper adopts a qualitative case study approach to examine how qLegal, the pro bono commercial law clinic within the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (“CCLS”) at Queen Mary, University of London (“QMUL”) teaches students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. We reflect on the importance of students learning about and developing this mindset, for their own professional development and to service the unmet legal needs of the start-up community. This paper will also highlight the challenges faced by qLegal staff, including our own legal training and experience, our obligations to real clients and our students’ expectations. We conclude by sharing examples of how we are currently teaching our students to have an entrepreneurial mindset and our ideas for overcoming our institutional challenges and improving our offering even more.
Copyright (c) 2023 Eliza Platts-Mills, Emily Wapples
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