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University of Missouri-Columbia professor receives President’s Award for Economic Development

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Kelly Wiemann

April 14, 2017

Award recognizes faculty member of four-campus system for directly contributing to the economic development of the state of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System Assistant Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development Scott Uhlmann today awarded the eighth of ten UM System President’s Awards to be presented to faculty in 2017 to James Niemann, inaugural director of the University of Missouri Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic (ELC) at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.

Uhlmann—accompanied by MU Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Economic Development Mark McInstosh—surprised Niemann during a faculty meeting with the President’s Award for Economic Development, which includes a $5,000 prize. The award recognizes faculty of the four UM System campuses who have directly contributed to the economic development of the state.

After a 20-year career in the private sector as a lawyer, Niemann joined the law school in 2015 and founded ELC, the first transactional law clinic at MU. The clinic was designed to provide simple legal advice to small and start-up businesses. Under Niemann’s leadership, the center achieves this goal and much more as it has become a one-stop shop for Missouri businesses to seek legal advice both simple and complex.

“The scale of Jim’s involvement in the entrepreneurial fabric of Missouri is truly marvelous,” wrote nominator Gary Meyers, Earl F. Nelson Professor of Law. “His clinic has already advised 70 business ventures, helped train 24 law students through the ELC course and through research assistantships and provided valuable collaboration with those in the economic development sphere—whether at the MU campus, at the System level, in the transactional business law world, or in the broader community.”

By one account, the legal services offered to those 70 business entities have a value of more than $800,000. Clients include entrepreneurs at the Missouri Innovation Center, minority and women-owned businesses, MU faculty and staff members, alumni, veterans and students, among others. In two short years, Niemann has established the MU School of Law as an economic development resource for the campus and local community and has provided unmatched opportunities for entrepreneurs and his students.

“I am immensely pleased to write this letter in support of Professor James Niemann for the President’s Award for Economic Development,” wrote Xu Han, president and founder of MU startup CryoCrate. “The comprehensive legal services provided by Professor Niemann’s group to CryoCrate were the most professional services that CryoCrate has obtained since it was launched.”

“Although hard to quantify, the economic impact of the Entrepreneurial Legal Clinic has been very significant,” President and CEO of the Missouri Innovation Center William Turpin said. “Jim and his team of students have helped many entrepreneurs get the legal advice they need to make smart decisions and avoid future problems. The students who participate in the program graduate with better experience. And, Jim has created lasting relationships with legal firms around the state that benefit MU and the law school.”

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Niemann will be formally recognized by UM System President Mun Choi during an awards celebration to be held in June.

MU Interim Vice Chancellor for Research, Graduate Studies and Economic Development Mark McIntosh, James Niemann and Scott Uhlmann, Assistant VP for Innovation and Economic Development.