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Northwestern Entrepreneurship Law Center Launches MOOC

Online course will address legal, business issues that entrepreneurs face

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October 21, 2013 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso
CHICAGO -- The Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Entrepreneurship Law Center at the Northwestern University School of Law has launched a new massive open online course, or MOOC, as part of a University-wide initiative to provide selected Northwestern courses globally through a large-scale digital platform. The new course, “Law and the Entrepreneur,” is scheduled to start Oct. 23.

Designed for both entrepreneurs and lawyers who hope to represent them, the course will address the legal and business issues that entrepreneurs face as they build and launch a new venture, including U.S. law on choice of entity; selection of a company name and trademark; protecting intellectual property of the business with patent, trade secret, trademark and copyright law; structuring agreements among owners; financing a new venture; risk management; and the relationship between attorneys and entrepreneurs.

Northwestern MOOCs are a product of a partnership with Coursera, an education company that partners with top universities and organizations throughout the world to make online courses available to anyone for free. The company has a platform that combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures and interactive content.

Esther Barron, clinical professor of law and director of the Entrepreneurship Law Center at Northwestern, and Steve Reed, clinical professor of law and assistant director of the Entrepreneurship Law Center, will teach the course.

Barron and Reed have outlined the course based on legal doctrine as it applies to a case study of two entrepreneurs who are starting a business. Their recorded lectures will engage students through interactive exercises, online conversations, quizzes and a case study showing how legal issues apply to entrepreneurship. By the end of the course, students will have a better understanding of practical ways to protect a new venture and spot potential issues from a business-legal perspective.

“We're really excited about being able to provide information on legal issues to entrepreneurs who might otherwise be intimidated by lawyers and the complexity of the law,” Barron said. “We hope entrepreneurs who might give up because of legal worries will have the confidence to move forward after taking this course.”

In addition, said Barron, “It is a great opportunity to showcase the programs, professors and the academic range of the University as a whole.”

The massive online format of the class allows for geographically diverse students to access Chicago-based entrepreneurs and attorneys who work in Chicago’s entrepreneurship community. To date, more than 16,000 students have registered for the course.

“Working on the course is helping us to stay on the cutting edge of legal education, which has begun to incorporate online teaching,” Reed explained. “There’s no doubt the future of higher education will include online instruction, so the chance to get this opportunity is great. We're enthusiastic about integrating our new skills teaching a MOOC into our classes for Northwestern Law students.”

For additional information and to register for the course, visit Coursera.