UM Clinical Programs’ Transactional Clinic Serves Small Farming Businesses

Marie Cope, Cam Abel, and Mark Chappell

Marie Cope and Cam Abel

By: Prof. Phil Broadhead

The UM Clinical Program’s Transactional Clinic serves a number of businesses, ranging from service-based non-profit organizations to for-profit LLC’s. Over the course of the 2015 fall semester, the Transactional Clinic has also been fostering new client relationships and providing service to Mississippi residents through seminars, commercial information, and outreach activities.

For several years now, the Transactional Clinic has attended a monthly Field Day event hosted by The Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production, an organization supporting small-operation rural farmers. In conjunction with The MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and the Alcorn State University Extension Program, the Transactional Legal Clinic has worked with the Alliance to produce the a series of workshops which provide farmers information to help make decisions that can increase profits. The September field day was no different.

Typically hosted in Durant, Mississippi, the most recent Field Day was held at a new location for the organization – the Cotton Warehouse Farmer’s Market in Batesville. In a newly renovated warehouse space, the Cotton Warehouse Farmer’s Market is a new venue for local farmers of high-quality produce to market their harvests in a central location. This space provided a perfect setting for the central topic of the meeting’s discussion: how to shift farming operations to certified organic production.

Prior to the meeting’s primary speakers, Transactional Clinic student, Mark Chappell, and Associate Professor, Cam Able, addressed the group of farmers to discuss Limited Liability Company (LLC) formation and protections the entity provides to farms, produce sellers, and other agriculture-centered businesses. Throughout their presentation, the duo fielded several questions and provided insight into the protections an LLC might provide to the individual farm owners.

While the Transactional Clinic typically sees familiar faces at the Field Day presentations, the move from Durant to Batesville this month allowed for the Clinic to interact with new farmers, generating several potential clients. The monthly Field Day presentations have proved to be integral to the Clinic’s success and, likewise, to its many farm-related clients.

Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network Annual Orientation

In support of long-time client, the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network (MSAN), advanced Transactional Clinic students, Whitney Griffin and Jacob Ladnier, attended MSAN’s annual orientation for interns and fellows and provided a brief presentation on the importance of entity formation. Focusing on the 501(c)(3) tax status and the LLC forms of business organization, the students advised the audience on the need for non-governmental organizations to incorporate, the incentives to do so, as well as the liability risks for those that choose not to incorporate.

The students briefly educated the group on the advantages of becoming an LLC and the entity’s applicability to the farmers with which MSAN regularly connects. Then, because the Clinic has worked closely with MSAN since its inception, the students used the organization’s experience in achieving 501(c)(3) status as a case study to engage the fellows and interns in a conversation about non-governmental organizations and non-profit status, from formation to board management and beyond. Following the presentation, the students fielded a round of questions from the audience and handed out pamphlets on entity formation and benefits of working with the Transactional Clinic.

Jacob Ladnier

Jacob Ladnier

Mark Chappell

Mark Chappell