SBIR Phase I: Crowd Sourcing Apprenticeship Learning: A Web Platform for Teaching Entrepreneurial Lawyering

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Award Id:
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Small Business Information
1007 E Abington Avenue, Glenside, PA, 19038-7915
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Karl Okamoto
(267) 934-1391
Business Contact:
Karl Okamoto
(267) 934-1391
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is the creation of a web-based platform for teaching entrepreneurial lawyering skills through virtual apprenticeships. The skill and experience of an entrepreneur?s lawyer have a significant impact on the success of the entrepreneur. Lawyers are critical architects of bringing innovation to commercialization. They organize entities, structure financings, protect intellectual property and serve as the nodes of entrepreneurial communities. Too few lawyers have the skills to perform these functions well. Neither law schools nor law firms offer effective training in entrepreneurial lawyering skills. As a result, society fails to capitalize on the full potential of technological innovation. The project is a disruptive innovation to the existing educational model that shifts its center of gravity outside of the classroom by reintroducing senior practitioners into the education of novices. Its essence is ?crowd sourcing? expert participation. By distributing the work of mentoring, the platform multiplies the opportunities for higher order apprenticeship learning that previously depended on non-scalable, face-to-face interactions. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to create a low cost, leveraged means to improve the ?practice readiness? of recent law graduates in entrepreneurial lawyering skills. Law schools have launched various experiential learning initiatives, including clinical offerings and simulations. Law firms have experimented with similar training programs. While improving learning on the margin, none of these efforts has had a fundamental impact. All rely at their core on the traditional, high-cost model of student-teacher interaction. Various on-line tools offer resources for acquiring substantive knowledge but lack the interactive component that leads to the development of the cognitive capacities that make up true expertise. None of the solutions has attempted to tap the reservoir of expertise found among the community of senior practitioners. Using social networking and distributed work strategies to overcome the obstacles to their participation, this project capitalizes on the desire of seniors to share their expertise.

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