Innovation in the Business of Law

Based on our conversation in class yesterday, here is a recent article looking at the State of Washington’s liberalization of the legal market by adding a legal technician license. Although the State is only allowing the licences to be used in the practice of family law to start, it will probably grow quickly if embraced by the general public.

Here are the requirements for the license:

“To become an LLLT, an applicant must have at least an associate’s degree and complete 45 credit hours of core curriculum currently being taught at community colleges in the state. The core curriculum is specified by court rule and covers topics such as civil procedure, contracts, legal research and writing, professional responsibility, and law office procedures and technology.

In addition, applicants must complete courses specific to the practice area in which they seek to be licensed. For family law, the only approved practice area so far, the 15-hour curriculum was developed jointly by the state’s three ABA-approved law schools—at Gonzaga University, Seattle University and the University of Washington. Applicants also must have 3,000 hours of substantive law-related work experience supervised by a licensed lawyer.”

‘Generation Z’ Is Poised To Drive A Surge In E-Commerce Growth

This article discusses online spending and, in particular, the way that “Generation Z” spends the highest portion of their income online compared to older age groups. It shows not only a stronger move toward e-commerce but also notes that more traditional notions about shopping habits don’t necessarily hold true for online shoppers.

As Start-Up Strategies Evolve, So Does Role of a Business Plan

This article discusses how some businesses are opting to forgo a traditional business plan and instead take their idea straight to the masses, adjusting their strategy or product based on feedback from users. The article highlights the pros and cons to such an approach, positing that it may work more successfully for tech start-ups than more traditional small businesses. This article reminded me of the discussion we had last week regarding the importance of focusing on what the customer actually wants and the need to incorporate that into your business plan.

Bill Gates- The Internet

This reminded me of our discussions from the last 2 classes. It’s crazy to think that people couldn’t see the genius of the internet, because now, it would be very hard to go even a day without using it.

Yes, entrepreneurs need to test their ideas to see how the market will respond. But on the flip side of the coin, it’s important to remember that with novel ideas such as the internet, it’s hard to do that; it’s hard for people to see the utility in something that they simply can’t conceptualize. It’s a good thing Bill Gates didn’t take the criticism too hard and give up on his idea!

Got the Next Great Idea?


This New York Times article discusses the emergence of university startup incubators and the role they play in guiding eager undergraduates in the early stages of their business ideas. As of 2012, about 1/3 of the 1,250 incubators in the United States were at universities, up 1/5 from 2006.  These incubators, often competitive to gain access to, offer the tools and direction necessary to turn business ideas into reality. However, the article discusses a potential drawback of using university incubators: if a student receives a university grant, is paid by the university for their work, or if their idea is developed with faculty, they may not be sole owners of their inventions in terms of I.P.  At the University of Michigan, this possibility had a chilling effect until the university agreed to give students sole ownership of their inventions, even if they worked on them using university equipment or in a course. The article also makes an interesting point about the value of incubators to universities. Although it is clear that most startups run by undergraduates are not profitable and never will be, there is great incentive for universities to encourage student businesses. The success of alumni reflects positively on the school. Successful alumni also provide donations and job opportunities for future students. All of this ties into my last post which noted that universities excessively promoting entrepreneurial coursework, pitch competitions, and incubators may dissuade some students from pursuing other viable career paths.

Airlines Cutting Costs But Where are the Consumer Benefits?

These articles reminded me of our discussion about the airline industry.

While US airlines could save as much as $50 billion on jet fuel this year, consumers are unlikely to see those savings. Fuel constitutes at least a third of an airline’s operating expenses, however airlines are not basing ticket prices on their own costs, but rather on what travelers are willing to pay.

This article discusses the growth of the “slim-line” seats in major airlines. Apparently seats that used to have a pitch of 32 to 34 inches now typically has 31 inches. In a survey, 42 percent of consumers said they would be inclined to purchase a seat with less legroom if its cheaper.

How can the airline industry “innovate” to better address consumer preferences? Is the industry too heavily regulated and entrenched by bigger players making it difficult for new market entrants? Could some sort of policy entrepreneurship in airline regulations catalyze new options for consumers?

Veronika Scott – what kind of “entrepreneur” is she?

Veronika Scott

Here’s a link to a Detroit Free Press story about Veronika Scott and her EMPWR coats that she’s making in Detroit. As I mentioned in class on Tuesday, the coats/sleeping bags themselves are not only helping the homeless, but her factory is employing and training women who previously lacked job skills. (I was particularly thrilled to read about her partnerships with General Motors and Carhartt.)

We can be cynical (and it’s usually wise to be skeptical), but if we ask more of people – whether in business or outside of it – they often amaze us with what they’re willing and able to do!

Legal Restraints on Entrepreneurs in the Craft Beer Industry

Yesterday in class we discussed reasons why entrepreneurs may dislike or like the law. One of the primary reasons entrepreneurs will dislike the law is if they feel that their growth is restricted because of a particular policy. Across the country and especially in Indiana and Michigan, the craft beer industry is rapidly growing and entrepreneurs across the states are opening their own breweries. Three Floyds and Sun King (two Indiana breweries), are currently teaming up to gain support against the Indiana law that currently limits brewers in Indiana to producing 30,000 barrels a year.