Students from the Brooklyn Law School converted the courtyard in front of the school on Joralemon Street into Legal Eats, a food festival featuring local food, drink and crafts, on Wednesday afternoon.
The idea behind the event, which was hosted by the Brooklyn Law Entrepreneurship Club (BLEC), was that food vendors would come to the school in exchange for legal advice and referrals. This would give vendors incentive, it would provide students with real-world experience, and would provide everyone with delicious food.
“It’s all a part of our Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) program which aims to provide students with real-world opportunities to represent real-world startups and small businesses,” said Paul Gangsei, executive director of CUBE. “It’s important because law firms are increasingly looking for students with this kind of experience, and they get that while providing a service to the community.”
There were seven vendors in total — five food vendors, a lemonade (Lizzmonade) and dessert stand (Alchemy Creamery). As it was the first event of its kind, it was not open to the public — only law school students, faculty and anyone who RSVP’d online. Organizers kept it small on purpose the first time around, but hope to do it again, and bigger, in the spring.
“This is not open to the public, not this time at least,” said Dan Chertok, president of BLEC. “With permit costs and everything, we decided that we wanted to do the minimum the first time around, basically what we thought we could pull off.”
Because the law school’s courtyard is so small and foot traffic in the area is so large, Chertok is already thinking that the next Legal Eats may have to find a new home. Perhaps in front of the Supreme Court on Court Street, he suggested. After all, the bigger the event, the more legal issues come into play which means more experience for students running the show.
“The legal issues are interesting,” Chertok said. “We had one vendor couldn’t come because they didn’t have the right certificates and issues of that nature. What’s kind of interesting is at least that issue is identified and now we can look into it. Unless you look into something like this, you don’t realize that certain issues will come up.”
There certainly won’t be a shortage of vendors. Chertok said that nearly every vendor that participated the first time around requested legal advice and that all of them were eager to introduce themselves to incoming students. They were all nearly sold out by 2 p.m., about two hours before the event was scheduled to end.
“We were thrilled to do this because we’re so close and for the new and incoming students to be introduced to us in this way is perfect,” said Red Star owner Johnson Ho, who was also a student at Brooklyn Law School before opening his restaurant. “When I was in law school, part of the problem was that there was so little hands-on clinical work, so this is such a good idea because it works for both ends for the lawyers and small business vendors.”