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Zell Lurie Co-Founder Funds Entrepreneurial Law Program

9/9/2011 --

Sam Zell's $5 million gift to the U-M Law School will expand opportunities for Ross student entrepreneurs to interact with law students who will provide free legal advice.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Ross School of Business benefactor Sam Zell, whose name adorns the school's Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and who has given $14 million in support of it, has given $5 million to the U-M Law School to establish a rare program in entrepreneurship and law.

The Zell Entrepreneurship and Law Program, launching this fall, will establish a clinic to offer free legal advice to Michigan's burgeoning number of student entrepreneurs, while simultaneously boosting the Law School's curriculum to train students to better serve both startup and existing entrepreneurial businesses.

The clinical aspect of the new program will deploy student-attorneys, supervised by faculty members, to help founders of promising student ventures iron out the business formation, trademark, finance, patent, regulatory, and other issues that can complicate the establishment of any entrepreneurial business.

The program will support such existing initiatives as the Ross School's Zell Lurie Institute, which Zell co-founded in 1999 and has granted more than $2.3 million in support of startups for graduate students and undergraduates alike.

"Ross provides students many opportunities to work on projects with others from multi-disciplines. The establishment of the Zell Entrepreneurship and Law Program will expand the number of opportunities where business students can interact with law students," says Timothy Faley, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute.

"We know the Law School is going to be a great partner," he continues. "All of Michigan's entrepreneurial programs are looking for legal counsel. And law students are saying much the same thing — that they'd love to learn how these deals go down."

The Zell Entrepreneurship and Law Program is the newest in a series of University initiatives geared toward business development, including the Zell Lurie Institute; student-run programs like the Ross School's Wolverine Venture Fund; a unique new professional master's degree in entrepreneurship created by the Ross School and the College of Engineering; the Michigan Venture Center; the Center for Entrepreneurship within the College of Engineering; and a variety of competitions and grant programs that encourage student startups. Overall, more than 5,000 students across campus participated in an entrepreneurial activity last year.

"The University has created an entrepreneurial ecosystem across this campus that is exciting and distinctive," says U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. "Whether in classes, business plan competitions, or incubators, students have an opportunity to bring a good business idea to life. These new Law School offerings add an important new dimension to support student innovation."

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 647-1847,