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'Social business' among discussions

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Law School Briefs

Law School Briefs is Indiana Lawyer’s new section that will highlight news from law schools in Indiana. While we have always covered law school news and will continue to keep up with law school websites and press releases for updates, we’ll gladly accept submissions for this section from law students, professors, alums, and others who want to share law school-related news. If you’d like to submit news or a photo from an event, please send it to Rebecca Berfanger, rberfanger@ibj.com, along with contact information for any follow up questions at least two weeks in advance of the issue date.

This year’s Program on Law and State Government at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis Oct. 1 will focus on three main topics for lawyers, businesses, legislators, government employees, and academics: education about entrepreneurship at the undergrad, graduate school, and law school levels; the idea of “social businesses,” also known as L3Cs or low profit limited liability companies; and how government entities use data to improve services to citizens.

Each year, the program is designed by two law school students and professor Cynthia A. Baker. This year, students Erin Albert and Melissa Stuart chose the speakers and topics.

It’s important to have a discussion about L3Cs in Indiana, Albert said, because there is already legislation or legislation in process to recognize the distinction in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan.

The concept isn’t brand new that a company would exist to fulfill a mission that wasn’t focused on making a profit, but she said a specific distinction in the laws that do exist help define tax issues and how much profit is too much profit to fit into the classification of a “low profit” company. She added there has been research about L3Cs that focus on the triple bottom line, or what is known as the three Ps. In addition to profit, companies also focus on place, including the environment and sustainability; and people, including employees, customers, and shareholders. These companies tend to not only thrive but are also more profitable than companies that only focus on profit, she sad.

An example of someone who has been successful focusing on people and not on profit has been Muhammad Yunus, a 2006 Nobel Prize winner, who started Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, Albert said. The point of the bank was to give microloans mostly to women in India who didn’t have any monetary capital but wanted to start small businesses and had enough social capital to get their businesses off the ground.

The bank has had a payback rate of more than 98 percent, Albert said.

Speakers for this section of the event include Antony Page, a professor at the Indianapolis law school; Robert Lang, CEO of Mary Elizabeth & Gordon B. Mannweiler Foundation, and CEO, L3C Advisors L3C; John Tyler, vice president and corporate secretary of Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; and Elizabeth Carrott Minnigh, an attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who represents L3Cs.

The speakers are national experts on the topic, Albert said, and will likely spark some controversy among the lawyers, legislators, and entrepreneurs in the room.

She said it was also important to include education for entrepreneurs as a topic in the conference because it’s something more people are doing, either as someone who has always wanted to start her own business, as someone who is unexpectedly unemployed due to the economy, or as a way to have a side business to keep one’s options open.

Albert, herself an entrepreneur, will moderate that discussion between Mark Need, a professor and director of the Elmore Entrepreneurship Law Clinic at Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington; and Mark Stewart Long, instructor of entrepreneurship and management at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington.

The third major topic, obtaining and effectively using data to improve systems, will be particularly relevant to program participants who work in government, she said.

For the luncheon and keynote address, Doug Chapin, director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States will discuss the role of election data. Stuart will present “Legal Frameworks for Performance-Driven Government.”

Stuart will also moderate the afternoon panel discussion that will address if law is an obstacle to data-based governing in Indiana. The panel will feature David Griffith, staff attorney for the Indiana Supreme Court, Division of State Court Administration, who will discuss Judicial Technology and Automation Committee; Becky Selig, director of the Bureau of Quality Improvement Services for the Division on Disability, Aging, and Rehabilitative Services of the Family and Social Services Administration; Molly Chamberlin, director of data collection, analysis and reporting for the Office of Learning Choices in the Department of Education; and Gary Huff, town manager for Fishers.

More information about the conference, which includes 5.5 hours of CLE, is available at http://indylaw.indiana.edu/ under Events. Registration is $100, or $55 for state government attorneys, judges, legislators, and non-attorneys.•

 

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