The legal challenges facing budding business owners are many, consuming both time and much-needed resources. These challenges can be all the more daunting for student entrepreneurs who, in light of active courseloads, little experience, and minimal income, lack the time, expertise, and financial wherewithal to make their ideas a reality.

Through the Ballard Academy for Student Entrepreneurs (BASE), Ballard Spahr seeks to lessen these burdens for student entrepreneurs by offering pro bono legal assistance on discrete issues facing their potential ventures. Clients accepted into the BASE program will be assigned to Ballard Spahr attorneys who will guide them through the startup process by providing legal assistance, such as advising on corporate governance and structure, negotiating leases, and other corporation formation and contract matters.

In addition to legal advice and support, successful applicants will gain access to regular educational seminars and programs as well as opportunities to meet and network with other young entrepreneurs and others in the startup community.

Ballard Spahr attorneys are experienced in all aspects of business formation and have served as primary outside counsel or special counsel to a diverse group of clients that includes publicly traded corporations, boards of directors and board committees, privately held companies, financial institutions, venture capital firms, private equity groups, investment funds, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, state and local governments, and individuals. We hope that our capabilities can enable you to successfully graduate from the classroom to the business world. 

The inaugural BASE class clients were selected from a pool of local university applicants. The class consisted of a delivery service for organic and natural hygiene products; a venture capital and finance support company for African startups; an app-based on-demand haircut service; a company facilitating investor loans to international students; and a social commerce mobile app and website for college students.

The program culminated in "BASE Jump," an opportunity for the entrepreneurs to present their enterprise to a panel of potential investors composed of four leaders in Philadelphia's early stage investment community. 

What We Do

BASE offers participants practical legal advice for developing a new venture, a value-added team of experienced and accessible lawyers, and an education on how to avoid mistakes and how to solve problems when they arise. With the resources of the firm’s 15 offices across the United States, BASE can provide competent, personalized, and effective long-term representation from startup to maturity.

Services Available to BASE Participants

  • Search and reserve corporate name
  • Advise on corporate governance and structure
  • Assist with entity formation, including state filings
  • Draft bylaws
  • Draft operating agreements
  • Draft confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements
  • Draft independent contractor agreements
  • Draft employment agreements
  • Draft IP assignment contracts
  • Draft “Terms of Use” and “Privacy Policy”
  • Draft standard licensing agreements

Certain legal services not included

For services that are not included in the BASE program, program administrators will refer the participant to a lawyer who can provide the service within the participant’s budget. The following services are excluded:

  • Litigation
  • Specialized real estate services
  • Tax-related advice and services
  • Employment and employee benefits advice
  • Trademarks, copyrights, or patents
  • Securities advice, services and filings
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and sales of entities
  • Due diligence

Please note: Participants are responsible for paying any government-imposed filing or application fees.

How to Apply

If you would like to receive information about BASE events, please contact Kimberly Klayman at

To apply for enrollment in BASE, click here