Producing the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project (HLEP) Podcast is surely among my favorite experiences at Harvard Law School (HLS) so far. Yet if you told me that I would have led such a public-facing project a year ago, I would have never believed you. Nevertheless, all ideas no matter how lofty begin somewhere. For me, it was during the Spring semester of my 2L year, when I had just become Co-President of the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project, a Student Practice Organization (SPO) at HLS that advises start-up founders from the Harvard and MIT community. At the time, I began wondering about how we could reach communities beyond HLS, in parallel to building on our existing programs internally.
Every student organization serves particular interests at the law school. Apart from connecting HLS students interested in working with startups to founders seeking pro bono legal advice, HLEP’s mission is to also build awareness about legal practice areas and trends in emerging industries. To that end, we organize events based on such themes and help to connect students with the law firms that practice in these spaces. Many of our alumni end up joining firms that specialize in these practice areas and some eventually depart to in-house positions at fast-growing tech firms.
Reflecting on what HLEP had accomplished since its founding in 2011 made me very proud to be part of the student organization. However, our programs, events, and resources at the time were available only to students at HLS. Indeed, there were many other communities beyond HLS, including prospective and non-HLS law students, similarly interested in these practice areas and who would benefit from the programing we offered. Further, the more I reflected on my own law firm recruitment process, the more I realized how opaque everything seemed. It became increasingly obvious to me that there was a need to provide law students with a 101-introduction to what practicing in these spaces is like and I found myself asking how HLEP could contribute.
Simple musings eventually grew into a call to action: how do we leverage the network and connections we had at HLEP to produce resources that all law students can access, at any time convenient to them, whether or not they attended HLS?
The idea to produce the HLEP podcast came shortly after and very quickly took on a life of its own. Production, from conception to launch, occurred over a four month period. The goal was to develop something that could make an immediate impact for law students going through the law firm recruitment cycle. The result is our first season, “Cradle-to-Exit”, which explores what lawyering is like throughout the corporate life cycle and the legal challenges lawyers help founders navigate throughout, from company formation, through the growing pains of building a company, and finally the exit stages.
In so many ways, the experience has been like launching a mini-startup. Our podcast went through many rounds of revision and encountered several unforeseen technical and logistical challenges. Throughout the entire time, I felt all the anxiety you’d expect in the process of producing a creative product: what if it’s terrible? What if nobody likes it? Are you really sure about this, Ben? And yet I’m thankful for the many friends and supporters that gave me the encouragement I needed to press on.
Today, we’ve produced an 8-episode season (with much more to come!) and I remain as confident as ever in the value it provides. The season’s format is designed to answer many of the questions that I wish I knew the answers to while going through the law firm recruitment process. On each episode, we interview partners from some of the leading emerging companies & venture capital law firms including Cooley LLP, Fenwick & West, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Proskauer Rose LLP, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. We spotlight particular practice areas like ECVC, M&A, Capital Markets, and IP, and discuss common scenarios that clients face at each stage. Finally, we learn about the advice these seasoned professionals wish they had heard at law school, and how to choose between law firms.
If you’re a law student about to start your law firm recruitment process and wondering about what practicing is like at each stage of the corporate life cycle, or an entrepreneur interested in learning about some of the legal issues you need to consider for as you build your company, I promise you’ll find our podcast helpful!
Ben Ho is a rising 3L student, and is the co-president of the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project.