NELP Client Spotlight
When you are an entrepreneur in the technology industry, your legal issues are many. Now imagine being an entrepreneur in the healthcare industry as well. Entrepreneur Marc Lara’s business, MicroHealth, spans both of these sectors as a platform that connects patients with their healthcare providers, by allowing providers to monitor treatment progress using digital tools, such as smart phone applications. Lara, who came to the U.S. from Spain on an academic scholarship, approached NELP with his four business partners in 2005. As a medical researcher at Columbia University’s School of Public Health, Lara was already developing his idea full time, but having been a student for the past few years, he did not have the funds to turn his idea into a reality. Over the last ten years, with the help of NELP and the many volunteer attorneys we were able to connect him with, Lara’s business has become cash flow positive, received several innovation awards, and funding from investors, including the Y Combinator Accelerator.
When Lara and his business partners approached NELP in 2005, they sought legal assistance with drafting an operating agreement and service contracts. In addition to this, they wanted to better understand the intellectual property protections available to them. NELP was able to able to connect Lara with volunteer attorneys at different firms to address each of these needs. Two attorneys at the firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, assisted Lara with filing two patents. Attorneys from Orrick have continued to assist Lara over the years. James Maune, of Orrick, states, “Orrick has provided Marc Lara’s companies, ConnectUS and MicroHealth, with patent prosecution legal services for the last several years. Marc possesses an innovative spirit, always looking for ways to improve the lives of patients or improve current medical/prescription services.”
In addition to attorneys from Orrick, who have assisted Lara for many years, Michael Flynn, formerly of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal LLP, and currently at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, has continued to work with Lara since he first volunteered to assist him in 2005 with an operating agreement and service contracts. He has since then generously continued to assist Lara with pressing legal issues over the past ten years.
Mike Flynn and Lara have faced a variety of legal issues since beginning their relationship in 2005. When asked about the most challenging of these issues, Lara responded, “If I’d say there was only one challenging legal issue, I’d be understating the amazing help I have received from Mike Flynn and the Fulbright team. Without his help, I don’t think the company could have survived.” Lara went on to explain that key issues have included fundraising and closing contracts with corporate clients. Mike Flynn, when asked about the breadth of legal issues replied, “The legal issues that Marc has brought to our firm have been all over the place…Part of the fun of this engagement has been bringing so many different skills to the assistance of Marc’s team.” Lara relied on Mike and the Norton Rose Fulbright team to provide him with quality legal assistance as he faced a variety of complex legal issues, and as Lara noted, the quality legal counsel he received was crucial to the survival and success of MicroHealth.
By 2007, Lara had worked with six volunteer attorneys on issues as tangible as filing a patent and as open-ended as assessing business liabilities. Lara’s case exemplifies the broad range of legal issues NELP volunteers are able to assist with, and shows how crucial quality legal assistance is to success in starting a new business.
MicroHealth began to gain the interest of investors, and with the advice and assistance of the volunteer attorneys, Lara’s idea grew into a reality. In 2015, MicroHealth was accepted into the highly competitive accelerator program, Y Combinator, which only accepted 1.5% of the ventures that applied. Y Combinator invests in the businesses they take on and requires that the businesses must move to Silicon Valley for three months of intensive business development. According to Lara, MicroHealth has become the largest digital health platform in hemophilia care, and he notes that over 10% of people in the US with hemophilia are using MicroHealth. Lara also reports that MicroHealth has discovered that a certain drug is more effective than other commonly prescribed drugs used for treating hemophilia. He notes that this knowledge went undetected in FDA trials and that this may be the first time that this methodology, using a smart phone application to track treatments, has been able to measure the effectiveness of certain drugs.
MicroHealth has a promising future, and with the help of NELP, it has a strong legal foundation on which it was able to grow and succeed. Lara expressed his gratitude when we spoke with him, “This is a phenomenal program. Early stage start-ups often can’t afford the sound legal advice they need to get off the ground. NELP increases the chances of good start-ups surviving.” To learn more about MicroHealth, visit https://microhealth.com/.