UB’s entrepreneurship law clinic helps Buffalo’s startups get their footing

Fri, 14.10.2022 12:50 p.m

In 5 years, the clinic has provided legal services to dozens of companies

From the University of Buffalo

Buffalo-based entrepreneur Adam Utley had one goal: to start a biotech company that would develop cancer treatments for patients by storing healthy immune cells from their blood that could be retrained to fight cancer.

“Cancer knocks out the immune cells and basically takes away the weapons and ammunition used by immune cells to kill the cancer,” says Utley, now founder and CEO of Immunaeon. “By allowing our customers to store their cells before they get sick, we give them the best chance to develop cancer cures when they get sick.”

He adds, “We knew there was a market opportunity to bring Immunaeon to life, but our team had little understanding of what it meant to start a business.”

He then reached out to Matthew Pelkey, program director at the University at Buffalo School of Law’s Entrepreneurship Law Center Clinic, or e-Law Center Clinic.

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“Matt and his team helped us understand the fundamentals of starting a business from the ground up,” said Utley, a graduate of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “They gave us insight into the company structure, best practices, regulatory pathways and helped us to build the company from the ground up.”

Immunaeon is another success story for e-Law Center Clinic, an emerging student-run agency providing legal services to entrepreneurs and startups who are not yet willing or able to seek outside legal advice.

Each semester for more than five years, around 30 student, staff and faculty-run businesses have submitted applications to work with the e-Law Center Clinic, which guides them through the key legal challenges and issues faced by new and fledgling businesses .

“You don’t even know…”

“When you start a business, especially for first-time founders, you have to deal with a lot of business and legal issues — all while focusing on getting an idea off the ground,” says Pelkey, the clinic’s program director. “You don’t even know what you don’t know. Having mentors and resources there is key to avoiding common mistakes.”

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“As practitioners, we fill a gap in the market because these companies often do not have the resources to hire a suitable attorney. So you will go online. You will do it yourself. They will ensure that their uncle next door’s nephew is removed twice. In the end, they create more problems than they solve. By working with the e-Law Center Clinic early on, you can best position these companies for success.”

Services offered by e-Law Center Clinic include:

√ Selection and creation of companies

√ Collateral/Financing

√ Taxes

√ Intellectual property (patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and licenses)

√ Social Enterprise

√ Terms of Service/Privacy Policy

√ Advice and advice for small businesses

√ Recruitment and employment matters

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√ Ethics/Conflict of Interest/Governance

The clinic represents startups during the academic year with its services to faculty, staff, alumni and students.

The clinic also helps those associated with UB partner organizations, including Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute, Kaleida Health, Jacobs Institute and the Western New York Incubator Network.

“The only caveat is that it can’t be a company that has raised capital from investors,” says Pelkey.

According to Utley, the e-Law Center Clinic, as well as other UB efforts, including investments from Business and Entrepreneur Partnership’s Cultivator program and winning the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition, have helped propel Immunaeon toward a prosperous future to steer.

“The e-Law Clinic was pivotal to our formation and an incredible asset as we made progress toward initial funding through the UB Business and Entrepreneurship Partnerships program,” says Utley. “Without their guidance and help, Immunaeon would not be where we are today.”


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