Tuesday 21 April 2015
A European network of legal advice clinics, led by Queen Mary University of London, is helping to deliver affordable legal services for Europe’s burgeoning start-up community, including those working in the sharing economy.
Researchers at the network recently launched a new online portal for start-ups, where entrepreneurs can apply for legal advice.
The sharing economy is rapidly changing the nature of business and consumer behaviour. Accommodation, travel, and transport are among the many sectors in which start-ups are using information technology to disrupt long-standing business models.
From a legal perspective, these developments pose many interesting and challenging questions. Start-ups working in this frontier sector face many technical and legal hurdles; made all the more complex by the number of jurisdictions in which these fast-growing companies operate.
The iLINC Network, launched in October 2013 offers access to free legal advice, and affordable legal services, to start-ups across Europe. The service is delivered through universities, located in or near Europe’s major tech centres. Companies receive advice from law students, under the supervision of pro bono legal experts.
Closer to home, budding entrepreneurs within the QMUL community are already seeing the benefits of these services. QMUL’s award-winning qLegal service – which operates as part of the iLINC network - provides free legal advice, workshops and resources to tech start-up companies and entrepreneurs.
Simone Fattouche, a senior status undergraduate law student at QMUL, came up with the idea of digitising receipts to eliminate the need to retain paper-based proof of purchase.
“I’ve had incredible support from the team at qLegal. From pitching to investors at a three-day start-up workshop, through to expert advice on intellectual property, company structure, and equity – their guidance has been absolutely invaluable. Overcoming these early hurdles has meant that we’re already at prototype stage, speaking to major retailers, and engaging with potential investors.”
According to John Cummins, Project Manager at iLINC:
“QMUL has been at the fore in this area for a number of years. qLegal at the university’s free legal advice centre has worked with more than 300 companies and start-ups to help overcome legal challenges and grow their business. iLINC is a natural extension of QMUL’s vision, and reflects the multi-jurisdictional nature of these businesses it supports.”
If you require free legal assistance, you can visit the iLINC portal at www.ilincnetwork.eu where you can apply for advice, download useful legal information and connect with others.
iLINC is the European network of tech law advice services based at universities across Europe. The law advice services provide free legal advice to tech start-ups and entrepreneurs on a range of legal issues including IP, commercial and corporate law. Led by QMUL, the other core partners are the Universities of Amsterdam and Leuven, and the Hans-Bredow Institute Hamburg.
qLegal at Queen Mary University of London provides free legal advice, workshops and resources to tech start-up companies and entrepreneurs. It supports innovation by providing free access to legal and regulatory resources to new businesses, primarily in the technology sector.