Grand Rapids law firm Varnum LLP has pledged another $1 million in free legal services to startups in Michigan.
Varnum made the commitment after assisting 220 startup and emerging companies across the state since first committing in 2011 to perform $1 million in free legal work over five years. The highest concentration of startups provided assistance at no cost was in Detroit and Ann Arbor, followed by Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, according to Varnum.
The initial commitment to the MiSpringboard initiative came as the state was just beginning to recover from the depths of the Great Recession.
“When we started the program, there was no data to suggest how well used it would be and no clear pathway to connect with the entrepreneurs who might make use of it,” Varnum Chairman Dave Khorey said. “We just knew that despite the downturn in the economy, the startup community seemed to be expanding. We decided to help by providing some of the legal services associated with starting a business.”
Attorney Harvey Koning, a partner at Varnum, notes that in the five years since the creation of MiSpringboard, Michigan’s economy has rebounded and there’s much more support for entrepreneurism across the state. Start Garden LLC in Grand Rapids, for example, didn’t exist at that time, and many communities across the state are now home to business incubators or have organizations that host business plan competitions.
“There are more resources available to entrepreneurs, including funding sources at earlier stages and more incubator and accelerator programs,” Koning said.
Through MiSpringboard, Varnum works with startup companies on legal issues such as preparing articles of incorporation, protecting intellectual property, employment agreements, vendor contracts, trademark work and licensing agreements.