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Mintz Levin series to help military veterans run startups

Former military service members who have come up with an idea or an invention for a new business since returning home now will have help in turning that dream into a reality.

The law firm Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC plans to sponsor a series of educational seminars this fall for entrepreneurial veterans looking to start their own companies.

The workshops will focus on four key areas: corporate issues; funding and grants; intellectual property; and labor and employment.

"Lots of people are thinking about how we transition servicemen into the civilian workforce," said Marty Lorenzo, a Mintz Levin member and Marine Corps veteran. "There's help (available) with resumes, networking and how to get internships. Those are all important. But I think fewer programs are focused on giving veterans the skills they need to become entrepreneurs."

Lorenzo used to teach at a similar program offered by Syracuse University, called the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, but he doesn't know of any local offering that addresses such needs.

He said San Diego is ripe with innovators and the entrepreneurial spirit, and that includes the region's large military segment.

"There are project management skills you learn in the military that translate directly to running a business," said Lorenzo, a 26-year veteran of the Marines who is still in the reserves.

He said many skills that veterans develop during service time -- discipline, work ethos and mission orientation -- also are helpful for launching a startup.

And he said, most importantly, service members possess leadership skills.

"Having someone who can lead a team to accomplish a goal is key," Lorenzo said. "You can have the best scientists and the best intellectual property protection, but if you can't get to market because of a lack leadership, than it's all for not."

He said members of the military get an undeserved reputation for just following orders, when in actuality they are given a lot more freedom to accomplish a mission, especially members of the naval forces.

"Today, orders that are given for naval services -- the Navy and Marine Corps -- are less specific and more intent driven," Lorenzo said. "That requires you to think creatively. You're not given a recipe to follow. You're given a direction and a goal and that's it. Similarly in business, no one's telling you how to bring a product to market."

Mintz Levin boasts eight attorneys in its San Diego offices who have served in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Justin Nahama, an associate with the firm, is a veteran of the Marine Corps and has helped Lorenzo organize the entrepreneurship series.

Another Mintz Levin member, Jeremy Glaser, is a board member of the San Diego-based not-for-profit REBOOT! National Veterans Transition Service Inc., from which the Mintz Levin attorneys drew inspiration.

Mintz Levin's series of educational workshops will give veterans and veteran-owned businesses information on the legal aspects of starting and running a business, including what type of entity they should consider, how to protect and license intellectual property, how to hire employees and how to avoid litigation.

It will be launched in October, right around the time of Fleet Week, which is scheduled for Sept. 13-Oct. 6.

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