CARLISLE, Pa. — When people can’t leave their houses to attend an event, you bring the event to them.
With residents across Pennsylvania sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State Dickinson Law’s Business Law Society is converting two upcoming entrepreneur pop-up clinics to virtual sessions, allowing people to participate from their homes.
The pop-up clinics, which had been scheduled to take place at Penn State Commonwealth Campuses this month, include workshops designed to educate early-stage entrepreneurs about topics critical to launching, promoting and sustaining new businesses.
The Penn State Abington/Abington LaunchBox pop-up clinic will be presented by Business Law Society President Greg Archibald (class of 2020) from noon to 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 9. A combined Penn State Berks/Berks LaunchBox and Penn State Harrisburg/Harrisburg LaunchBox pop-up clinic, presented by Sarah Phillips (class of 2020) and Sarah Zomaya (class of 2020), will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 30. The events are free and open to the public.
The reshuffling of the pop-up clinics occurred in a matter of days as Pennsylvanians undertook social distancing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Second-year Dickinson Law student Alexis Shovel (class of 2021), the Business Law Society workshop coordinator, proactively contacted Penn State Berks, Penn State Abington and Penn State Harrisburg to reschedule the workshops as online pop-ups.
Dickinson Law students in the Business Law Society have observed the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak playing out already. That made holding the pop-up clinics feel even more important. The law students and their adviser, Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills and Entrepreneurship Samantha J. Prince, want to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset during this difficult time.
“Entrepreneurs and business owners are dealing with a lot of issues right now. However, many people will be looking to start companies when the time is right. That hasn't changed,” said Prince, who also moderates the Business Law Society’s Inside Entrepreneurship Law blog. “Additionally, with more than 10 million people having filed for unemployment in March alone, many will be thinking of ways to earn an income outside of their prior employment.”
Education and information for entrepreneurs
The April pop-up clinics include workshops focusing on licensing and company creation. “Our workshops can cover legal aspects of entity selection, whether to start a company or license a product, cybersecurity and data privacy, online retail, and other helpful topics for entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Prince said. “We provide information so that entrepreneurs can act or change their actions in certain ways.”
Each Business Law Society pop-up clinic also explores how to determine if you need an attorney, communicate with that attorney, and save money while doing it. “We can provide a lot of information in a short amount of time,” said Shovel.
In the past, the pop-up clinics included an interactive setup where a presentation is followed by networking. Now, with the events going virtual, the presentation will precede a Q&A session where people can ask questions during the session online.
Shovel said the technology side won’t be too complicated. Two members of the Business Law Society will present. Attendees can click on a link to view the session and slides that go along with the presentation, much like Dickinson Law students have been doing during the remote learning period in response to COVID-19.
In many ways, the pop-up clinics will be more accessible. “There is an added benefit that entrepreneurs won't have to travel to a physical location to be able to interact with us,” Prince said. “Now they can view our presentation and chat with us from any location. By removing the physical location requirement, we can more easily help transitioning military, stay-at-home parents, and the list goes on.”
Shovel agreed, saying the goal for the pop-up clinics remains the same as with the in-person workshops — to cast as wide a net as possible for participants. “These events have been a wonderful outreach to other campuses within the Penn State community,” she said.
The opportunity to try something new could lead to a permanent change for future events. “Given the benefits, I also envision livestreaming future physically hosted pop-up clinics," Prince said.
To join the Penn State Abington LaunchBox pop-up clinic on April 9, click here. To register for the Penn State Harrisburg/Harrisburg LaunchBox and Penn State Berks/Berks LaunchBox pop-up clinic on April 30, click here.
To learn more about the Business Law Society’s pop-up clinics and services to entrepreneurs, visit https://dickinsonlaw.psu.edu/entrepreneurship-workshops.