Friday, October 7, 2016

Attorney general pork barrel benefits UALR small business clinic

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 10:34 AM

click to enlarge BOWEN LAW SCHOOL: Gets $1 million for business law clinic.
  • BOWEN LAW SCHOOL: Gets $1 million for business law clinic.
The UALR Bowen School of Law has received $1 million from the Arkansas attorney general's office to create a "business innovation clinic."

It will provide business law advice to small businesses and nonprofits.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is a UALR graduate. She has money to pass around independent of the legislature from proceeds from lawsuits settled by her office, most from actions undertaken before she took office in 2015. The  Republican-controlled legislature in 2015 also  loosened up restrictions it had placed on discretionary spending by Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. He'd used proceeds from winning class action lawsuits as something of a personal bank account to benefit selected agencies — a training facility for the State Police was one pet project.

But, after the legislature capped McDaniel's spending at $1 million in 2013, the legislature found itself friendlier to Rutledge in 2015. In addition to letting her keep $1 million in a consumer division account, it let her pass around $6 million more from $25 million in lawsuit settlements.

I'm not precisely sure yet where the $1 million for UALR is drawn from, but I've asked. It's lawsuit settlement money, I heard preliminarily, but I don't yet know which lawsuit.

According to a news release, law students supervised by a business law attorney will work in business startups, contract negotiations and protection of ideas and innovation. The clinic also will provide program for business people. 

The clinic will also partner with organizations that already help small businesses with nonlegal needs.

The law school already had clinics for mediation, family law, low-income taxpayers, consumer protection and general litigation.

UPDATE: The attorney general provided an accounting of office intake and expenditures from settlement money. Interesting discretionary spending outside the legislature's control.

Here's the accounting.

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