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Law Firm’s First Incubator Class Judged a Success

The startup/incubator note of the week focuses on Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP. That’s right, a law firm.

Procopio is one of only about four firms around the country hosting a business incubator. They recently announced their second class of startups, which receives free office space at the Del Mar Heights location, a suite of legal services, access to business training and other mentoring. In return, Procopio gets a small piece of equity in the company — less than 2 percent — and the startups are required to be clients.

The firm reports that two of the four companies from the first class have secured significant financing.

“Most law firms are not focused on the startup space. We do focus on startups, and we see a lot of startup business models,” said Paul Johnson, the Procopio partner who manages the incubator, called LaunchPad.

Johnson said the biggest hurdle to more firms hosting incubators is time — there are no billable hours, the traditional law firm business model.

Though LaunchPad has involved more admin time than they anticipated, Johnson says the effort has been noticed in the startup community and been a boost for the firm’s Business and Technology team.

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Here’s one to watch. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors just passed a city ordinance, dubbed the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, designed to establish more stable hours for employees. Employers must post work schedules at least two weeks in advance, and workers will be owed supplemental pay if certain types of changes are made to the schedules. The ordinance applies only to businesses with more than 11 locations, or “formula retail chains” as detractors call them. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association are among the groups challenging the action.

• • •

Chester Wisniewski recently rode his bike for about 20 miles through San Diego using a Raspberry Pi (that’s a cheap computer) and an $8 antenna to collect information about the 8,048 Wi-Fi networks he encountered. Wisniewski is a senior security adviser for Sophos, a Canadian IT security company.

Some 18 percent of the Wi-Fi access points had no encryption, and an additional 3 percent were using outdated WEP encryption, which provides no security. He said several prominent nonprofits were in the WEP mix; alarming to him but not surprising given priorities and financial constraints of nonprofits.

He advises against doing online banking or online shopping in an unsecured environment. Mobile security is a huge issue, he says, “because we love our free Wi-Fi.”

Editor-in-Chief Nels Jensen can be reached via njensen@sdbj.com or 858-277-6897.

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