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Tag: Community Enterprise Project

Amanda Kool On Solving America’s Rural Justice Gap

Via Law360 

By: RJ Vogt

Amanda Kool left her dream job at Harvard Law School to tackle America’s rural access to justice gap from Bracken County, Kentucky.

Amanda Kool remembers listening to her law school peers describe their “average middle class” backgrounds during icebreaker sessions at the beginning of her first year.

“My mom lived in the trailer park and my dad did transient farm work and other side businesses,” said Kool, who grew up in rural Kentucky. “I was like, wait, was that not middle class?”

The moment was just one of the many times Kool has noticed the rural-urban divide that permeates the legal community.

She knows the chasm well, having grown up and gone to college in Kentucky before attending law school at Northeastern University, working in the corporate sector at Nixon Peabody LLP and spending five years running the Community Enterprise Project, a clinical program at Harvard Law School.

While at Harvard, she helped shift the clinic’s focus from primarily serving tech startups to serving more small, local community enterprises that needed help with business, finance and other transactional legal matters.

The post also gave her the opportunity and the platform to research more about the access to justice gap that the rural-urban divide can exacerbate in places like her home state.

The research and the project combined to convince Kool to give up her “dream job” and go back to Kentucky, where she could have a greater impact.

Now, she and her family have traded city life for a house and a yard in Bracken County, population 8,000, big-box retailers 0. As director of legal operations at the Lexington-based Commonwealth Commercialization Center, she’s applying her experiences in Boston to a statewide $1.2 million-plus project that aims to use Kentucky law schools to pair high quality legal services with local businesses.

She’s also helped start the Alliance for Lawyers and Rural America, an initiative geared toward facilitating conversations, ideas, information and resources at the intersection of law and rurality.

Law360 caught up with Kool at the Equal Justice Conference in May, hosted in Louisville by the American Bar Association and National Legal Aid and Defenders Association. She described how moving to rural America can be a key step in providing access to legal services where it’s needed most.

You’ve said your new project in Kentucky stems from some of the work you did at Harvard’s Community Enterprise Project. What’s the connection?

Back in the mid-’90s, Harvard Law School had put together a program called the Community Enterprise Project to help people start small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

It was located out in the community at the Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain, but in the late 2000s they brought it back to campus — in Harvard Square essentially. When I came on board in 2012, the Community Enterprise Project was rebranded as the Transactional Law Clinic. Instead of mom-and-pop businesses, low-income people, communities of color, immigrants … it was more high-tech startup types.

That work was really relevant to our students, who were going on to work at large firms in New York. But there was this entire other set of needs and people that wasn’t being served because we were no longer in those communities — and they were not getting onto train lines to come to us at campus.

I started to find these students who were social justice-minded and transactionally-minded. I started exploring more about worker cooperatives and community land trusts. We started going back to the community again: one day a week, and then it was two, and over time we built this program with a waiting list and a reputation.

What’s an example of one of the community projects that grew out of the law clinic?

The first one came along kind of organically: we called it the Food Truck Project. It was right after the city of Boston had permitted food trucks for the first time and said, you know, “we’d like to have more of these.” The city worked with Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and came up with a permitting regime.

And our clinic just naturally started seeing people saying, “I’m going to start a food truck, will you help me form an entity? Will you help me register my trademark?”

I said, well, these people have all of these other needs, too. They need to maybe finance the truck. They need to get the truck inspected. They need to have a relationship with the commissary kitchen.

What if we connected with all of those people and put together a toolkit and a training program that was like Food Trucks 101, with all the legal stuff you need to know in one place?

What made you think about going back to Kentucky?

There were certain hurdles. It’s really hard for me to help grow my clients’ business when someone just bought their building and wants to triple their rent, right? And because I come from here [Kentucky], I’m always thinking about what’s happening in other places — here, people are seeing things like falling property values as a bad thing. Where I was sitting, I saw it as an opportunity.

Secondly, I was working in a place where transactional legal services were available, basically, across the spectrum: there were clinics like mine, law firms getting involved, incubators … and I was looking at my home state of Kentucky and saying, “we have one pro bono transactional services provider in the entire state?”

And then, being at a law school, I had connected with a number of students at Harvard Law School, especially in the wake of the election, who were very catalyzed by the justice gap and access to justice. When you don’t have access to a system that works for you, you kind of pull away from that system and you no longer even see yourself as a part of it.

There was only so long I could sit in a place like Cambridge, Massachusetts, and say “people should go practice in rural places” before it was time for me to do it.

How is it different, doing what you do at the CCC in Kentucky as compared to what you did at Harvard, in Boston?

In the city, entrepreneurship is not necessarily economic development. Whereas in Kentucky, those things are much more closely aligned, which is why I’m attracted to it.

And when we talked about doing that as a state, it took me a matter of two to three months to be talking in person with the Kentucky Bar Association, with the people at law firms doing this work, with the heads of the three law schools, etc.

Within the first four months in my job, we were all sitting at the same table talking about how we work together as a state. There were three law schools talking about how they develop programming that all of their law students can enroll in and participate in together.

You can’t pull that off in other markets.

What would you say to other people who might consider working on access to justice in a rural area?

If you are a creative, innovative or proactive thinker, rural communities are for you. There’s so much room for really creative, exciting stuff to happen. You can’t invest in the city is as well as you can in rural places.

I loved Boston. I loved Harvard Law School — wouldn’t change a thing. But I’m so glad to be here. I’m not going anywhere.

Community Enterprise Project Participates in Boston Ujima Project’s Citywide Assembly

Boston Ujima Project citywide assembly, October 6th – October 7th 2018

By: Samy Rais

Over Indigenous Peoples’ Day weekend, more than a hundred community members, business owners and activists assembled to celebrate and participate in the Boston Ujima Project’s second official citywide assembly. The Ujima Project was founded in 2017 with the mission to create a new community-controlled economy in Greater Boston, initially focusing on[1]:

  1. Good Business Certification and Alliance: establishing community standards (and supporting businesses) that consider business practices like living wages, Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI)-friendly hiring, local purchasing, environmental impact and affordability.

 

  1. Community Capital Fund: pooling savings and investments to engage in participatory budgeting to meet the enterprise, housing and consumer needs of the community. The fund will be democratically governed by historically divested communities, giving every member an equal vote on the fund’s investment priorities, loans and equity transactions.

 

  1. Worker Services Network: growing employee satisfaction and security by organizing human resource programs.

 

  1. Alternative Local Currencies: establishing alternative local currencies (like time banking) that would allow members to trade their skills and labor and incentivize circulation of resources within the community.

 

  1. Anchor Institution Advocacy: building community power and advancing campaigns for the City, State and large nonprofits to direct investment, subsidy and procurement dollars to Ujima’s network of certified good businesses and developers.

 

Since early 2016, the Community Enterprise Project (CEP) of Harvard’s Transactional Law Clinics has been supporting the Ujima Project’s inception and community-driven mission. CEP students have provided the Ujima Project with legal analysis on various transactional matters, namely corporate and nonprofit law, corporate governance structures, 1940 Investment Company Act and securities laws implications, consumer protection laws, and secured transactions. These areas of law are customarily associated with the law firm-world, but are a critical need in the public interest space. Currently, CEP students are building on work completed last semester by helping to finalize the initial documents for the Ujima Project’s Community Capital Fund to begin making investments in community-supported businesses.

As part of CEP’s support of the Ujima Project, I attended the citywide assembly with CEP director and clinical instructor, Carlos Teuscher. CEP’s attendance at the citywide assembly had two purposes: first, in following the community and movement lawyering approach, CEP believes in supporting organizations that are working to dismantle and radically restructure current systems of law and power, and it is essential to be present in order to be in solidarity with such movements; and second, it was critical to hear the voices of the community that the Ujima Project was supporting and are the most impacted, in order to effectively prepare the Ujima Project’s Community Capital Fund loan documents.

As mentioned above, the Ujima Project is creating the first-of-its-kind investment fund that is controlled by the community. While my involvement in transactional cases generally consists of undertaking legal research, drafting contracts, or forming a legal entity, it was obvious from the start that working with the Ujima Project was going to be different. Because of its community-driven approach, as its legal counsel, we need to ensure that the Ujima Project’s legal documents are able to adapt to its members’ ideas, struggles and demands, no matter how unconventional.

In that sense, the Ujima Project is both a unique project and a large-scale illustration of recurrent challenges in our work at CEP. This semester, student advocates in CEP have been advising several groups looking to form worker cooperatives in Greater Boston, which, like the Ujima Project, require democratic voting. By giving workers collective ownership in their business, worker cooperatives enable collaborative entrepreneurship and help tackle many of the issues poverty lawyers interact with on a day-to-day basis – wage-and-hour violations, health and environmental issues, immigration, criminal justice, and many others. As with the case in the Ujima Project, we need to ensure that the voices of all the members in the cooperative (undocumented/documented, low-wage workers/management, reentering citizens, etc.) are heard and reflected. At the same time, it is challenging to balance the need for urgency in the day-to-day operations and democratic management.

As we pass the mid-point of the semester, I am excited to have been able to interact with communities experimenting with and implementing alternative economic models. As an aspiring lawyer, I have appreciated the need to better understand the community you work for and their needs. Further, as a foreign student at Harvard Law School for the semester, I discovered communities in the United States, who, although being disadvantaged, gather and spare no effort or ingenuity to fight and overcome the systemic struggles they face.

[1]Ujima Concept Paper available at https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/40c717_f16102d86a644584af4c47c72ea2794b.pdf.

Making Change: A Harvard Law School clinic helps the homeless earn a living

Via Harvard Law Today

Making Change: A Harvard Law School clinic helps the homeless earn a living (video)

 

Community Enterprise Project Helps Empower Small Business Owners in Boston

By Alex Glancy, J.D. ’19

Caption: Alex Glancy (J.D. ’19) and Michael Trujillo (J.D. ’18) present to a group of community leaders and small business owners in Jamaica Plain about commercial lease basics. This workshop was co-hosted by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC).

On a winter afternoon, I met with Mehedi* at CVC Unidos, a community center in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Mehedi is a convenience store owner. He has a bright smile and will never let you leave without offering you a soda or water bottle. He was opening a second convenience store and had recently received the lease for that property. CEP was holding office hours, and he came to get legal advice. He handed me the 6-page unsigned lease agreement, filled with dense contract language. I took a deep breath and started reading.

As Mehedi waited for my opinion on his lease, he asked, “So did my landlord give me a good lease?” I began scrutinizing Mehedi’s lease. I noticed a problem. The lease contained a subordination provision, which meant that his lease could be terminated if the landlord’s mortgage lender ever foreclosed on the property. “You could lose your lease if your landlord defaulted on his loan,” I explained. This was a risk Mehedi did not want to take.

During my time in the Community Enterprise Project (CEP), we developed a presentation and corresponding Commercial Leases 101 Toolkit  designed to assist small businesses in Boston and Somerville. To develop these materials, we met with numerous community partners, canvassed commercial districts in Boston (such as the Bowdoin-Geneva area, where I first met Mehedi), and consulted with experienced clinical instructors familiar with real estate law.

Caption: This is a flyer for one of numerous commercial lease workshops held around Boston during Fall 2017. We distributed the flyer throughout Dorchester. This workshop was co-hosted by the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC)

Unlike residential tenants, commercial tenants have virtually no rights outside of their lease. Any rights are described in the lease agreement, so it is important to sign as good a lease as one can. How can small-business owners, especially the poor or non-English speaking, sign better commercial leases? In navigating the Wild West of commercial real estate, they could use attorneys. But even more crucially, they need community organizations that fight for increased economic and political power. We designed our project to assist small business owners one on one, and also to lay the groundwork for systemic change in the ongoing defense against gentrification.

A transactional lawyer is a luxury for the majority of small businesses, including those in low-income communities facing more pressing legal issues, such as lack of housing or public benefits. Retaining a lawyer might seem so unattainable that the thought does not even cross one’s mind. Although transactional lawyers might seem like last priority, their impact can be long lasting. A transactional lawyer knows that you never know until you ask, and can suggest minor changes that make a big impact. As a first step, transactional lawyers remind clients that a contract is a two-way street, with room to create solutions that will benefit both sides.

At the conclusion of our meeting, we advised Mehedi to add a “non-disturbance” provision to his lease, so that the landlord’s mortgage lender could not unilaterally terminate Mehedi’s lease. We also advised Mehedi to delete certain ambiguous provisions. Mehedi planned on signing the next day, and he walked away jolly knowing that he would be better protected. Small business owners like Mehedi should negotiate their leases in this manner.

With rents on the rise, however, a landlord might not be willing to negotiate. Increasingly, landlords are commercial developers with whom it is difficult to forge a personal relationship. In fact, the majority of land in Boston is owned by a handful of these developers.

Thus the community-wide effort to resist displacement is crucial. We often catered our workshops to community organizers working on these systemic issues. In the case of recent evictions of El Embajador Restaurant and De Chain Auto Service, JPNDC and City Life/Vida Urbana, among others, created a campaign to resist displacement of these neighborhood businesses.

A long-term solution will be city or statewide legislation to create more statutory rights and protections for commercial tenants. Students in CEP next semester are planning to collaborate with community groups to devise such a policy proposal and help these community groups push proposals through Boston’s political machine. By forming a coalition of community groups, our goal is to help empower the community as they fight for increased economic opportunities.

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality

Spring 2018 Community Enterprise Project – Apply Now!

The Community Enterprise Project (Spring 2018) is a by-application division of the Transactional Law Clinics in which students engage in both direct client representation and community economic development. In addition to representing clients located near the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School on transactional matters, CEP students work in small groups to connect with community organizations, identify organizational and community legal needs, and develop comprehensive strategies to address those needs while gaining valuable, real-world transactional law experience in a community setting.

 Apply Now!

To apply to CEP, please submit a statement of interest (no more than 200 words) and resume.

Please note that CEP students must commit to spending at least half of their clinical hours on Wednesdays and/or Thursdays at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in Jamaica Plain.

CEP applications should be addressed to Brian Price and Carlos Teuscher and submitted via e-mail to cteuscher@law.harvard.edu and clinical@law.harvard.edu

If accepted, students will register for 4 or 5 clinical credits through the Transactional Law Clinics and 2 course credits for the associated clinical seminar. Continuing TLC students may take CEP for 2 or 3 clinical credits and do not need to register in the associated clinical seminar.

Harvard Law Students partner with Spare Change News

Via Spare Change News

Harvard Law students Antoine Southern and Anne Rosenblum will be guiding Spare Change News vendors through the legal questions that come with being a small business owner.
Courtesy photo

We are third-year Harvard Law School students from the Transactional Law Clinics’ Community Enterprise Project, and we are partnering with Spare Change News to address some of the concerns vendors face.

We are excited to be working with Spare Change News!

We will be focusing our efforts on providing education and resources to existing and future vendors to support them as small business owners.

The core part of our project will be collecting and sharing information regarding legal issues inherent in running a small business, including what it means to be the sole proprietor of a small business, tax obligations and how to meet them, how public benefits might be impacted by small business ownership and tips on banking services.

We will also include a section about local rules impacting how and where vendors can sell papers.

In addition to the business-oriented core of our work, we plan to identify service providers and resources that are available to help vendors confront legal obstacles that are not business-related, such as housing discrimination, criminal record expungement and mental health services, to name a few.

This aspect of the project will be less in-depth but will hopefully help to raise awareness and facilitate access to these services and resources for the vendors.

We will create a comprehensive, user-friendly reference guide that can be distributed to vendors in the future. We will present the guide to vendors in April, highlighting some of the key information and resources it contains.

 

Clinical Opportunity for Collaborative, Community-Based Transactional Work

The Community Enterprise Project (spring 2017) is a by-application division of the Transactional Law Clinics in which students engage in both direct client representation and community economic development. In addition to representing clients located near the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School on transactional matters, CEP students work in small groups to connect with community organizations, identify organizational and community legal needs, and develop comprehensive strategies to address those needs while gaining valuable, real-world transactional law experience in a community setting.

To get a better sense of the kinds of projects students in CEP undertake, check out the stories below from the OCP blog:

Creating opportunities through the Community Enterprise Project

Harvard Law’s Community Enterprise Project heads to Oakland forges partnership with Sustainable Economies Law Center

TLC’s Community Enterprise Project concludes milestone semester

TLC’s Community Enterprise Project welcomes young hip-hop artists to Harvard Law School

Apply Now!

To apply to CEP, please submit a statement of interest (no more than 200 words) and resume.

Please note that CEP students must commit to spending at least half of their clinical hours on Wednesdays and/or Thursdays at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in Jamaica Plain.

CEP applications should be addressed to Brian Price and Amanda Kool and submitted via e-mail to akool@law.harvard.edu and clinical@law.harvard.edu

If accepted, students will register for 4 or 5 clinical credits through the Transactional Law Clinics and 2 course credits for the associated clinical seminar. Continuing TLC students may take CEP for 2 or 3 clinical credits and do not need to register in the associated clinical seminar.

Steven Salcedo ’16 honored with ethics award

Via HLS News

Harvard Law School 3L Steven Salcedo is among 12 law students recognized by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)-Northeast for “exemplary commitment to ethics in the course of their clinical studies.”

Steven_SalcedoSalcedo was nominated for the award by Harvard Law School Lecturer on Law Amanda Kool, who supervised Salcedo during his more than three semesters of clinical work with the Transactional Law Clinic’s Community Enterprise Project. In her nomination letter, Kool praised Salcedo for his work drafting a guide for immigrant entrepreneurs and helping immigrant clients on issues related to their business ownership, tasks which raised complex ethical issues.

“Put simply, I’ve never met a student more committed to the ethical rules than Steven Salcedo,” wrote Kool in her nomination. “He is far from reckless, but neither is he afraid of blazing (calculated, well-researched) trails to the effective delivery of legal services to the most vulnerable of clients, using the ethical rules as his roadmap each step of the way.”

Salcedo jumped into clinical work through his participation in the Community Enterprise Project of the Transactional Law Clinics (CEP), which allows HLS students to help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and community groups create businesses, obtain permits and licenses, and negotiate contracts and other transactional (non-litigation) services. During his first semester with CEP, he and a fellow student proposed creating a legal resource for immigrant entrepreneurs and those who work with immigrant entrepreneurs. The project was accepted and Salcedo continued with the clinic for an additional semester to see the project to fruition as the project team leader. The first-of-its-kind guide, A Legal Overview of Business Ownership for Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Massachusetts, was published last fall.

As a result of his work on the publication, Salcedo built a reputation for expertise and decided to stay on for a third semester of clinical work with CEP to continue representing immigrant entrepreneur clients.

Continue Reading

Clinical Opportunity for Collaborative, Community-Based Transactional Work

Applications Due April 8, 2016

The Community Enterprise Project (CEP) is a by-application division of the Transactional Law Clinics in which students engage in both direct client representation and community economic development. In addition to representing clients located near the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School on transactional matters, CEP students work in small groups to connect with community organizations, identify organizational and community legal needs, and develop comprehensive strategies to address those needs while gaining valuable, real-world transactional law experience in a community setting.

To apply to CEP, please submit a statement of interest (no more than 200 words) and resume.

Please note that CEP students must commit to spending at least half of their clinical hours on Wednesdays and/or Thursdays at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in Jamaica Plain.

CEP applications should be addressed to Brian Price and Amanda Kool and submitted via e-mail to akool@law.harvard.edu and clinical@law.harvard.edu.

If accepted, students will register for 4 or 5 clinical credits through the Transactional Law Clinics and 2 course credits for the associated clinical seminar. Continuing TLC students may take CEP for 3, 4, or 5 clinical credits and do not need to register in the associated clinical seminar.

Taking people ‘to where they want to be’

Via Harvard Gazette

Law School students help struggling small-time entrepreneurs flourish

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Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Amanda Kool (red jacket) directs the Community Enterprise Project at Harvard Law School, where students like Matthew Diaz (from left), Carolyn Ruiz, and Steven Salcedo help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and community groups.

Hailing from Buffalo, a once-prosperous city in upstate New York, Steven Salcedo knew how a lack of continued economic development can hinder families and mire people in poverty and hopelessness.

But it was only after he took a course at Harvard Law School (HLS) that Salcedo realized that lawyers could help foster better times for communities.

“Lawyers can’t make economic development happen by themselves,” said Salcedo. “But we can contribute to help solve poverty by enabling people to do what they want to do. We’re like a bridge; we take them from where they are to where they want to be.”

The class Salcedo took, “Community Enterprise Project of the Transactional Law Clinics,” allows HLS students to help small business owners, entrepreneurs, and community groups create businesses, obtain permits and licenses, and negotiate contracts and other transactional (non-litigation) services.

Continue Reading

Harvard Law’s Community Enterprise Project Heads to Oakland, Forges Partnership with Sustainable Economies Law Center

L-R: Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law Amanda Kool, SELC Executive Director Janelle Orsi, SELC Director of Economic Democracy Ricardo Samir Nuñez, SELC Intern Cyndi Malasky, and Matt Diaz J.D. '16

L-R: Clinical Instructor & Lecturer on Law Amanda Kool, SELC Executive Director Janelle Orsi, SELC Director of Economic Democracy Ricardo S. Nuñez, SELC Intern Cyndi Malasky, and Matt Diaz ’16

By Matt Diaz, J.D. ’16 

In early August, Amanda L. Kool, Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor of Harvard Law School’s Community Enterprise Project of the Transactional Law Clinics (“CEP”), and CEP clinical student Matt Diaz, J.D. ’16, met with staff members of the Sustainable Economies Law Center (“SELC”) in Oakland, California to cement a partnership between the two organizations. With a shared ambition to foster community economic development through innovative approaches to transactional law, the partnership between the relatively-new law school clinic and the influential legal services organization carries tremendous potential for the organizations themselves, the clients they represent, and lawyers interested in how transactional law can play an important role in the modern economy.

Co-founded by Janelle Orsi and Jenny Kassan, SELC engages a broad set of legal approaches to facilitate “community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment.” Through its various interconnected programs—including its program focused on promoting cooperative businesses—the organization offers legal expertise to empower communities to transition to fairer and more robust local economies. SELC’s multifaceted strategy involves legislative advocacy, workshops, and educational materials for lawyers and community members, and the delivery of legal services through channels such as its “Resilient Communities Legal Cafe,” where SELC staff and volunteer attorneys provide legal consultations to community businesses and organizations.

CEP is similarly invested in community economic development, though CEP’s targeted communities are those that surround the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. In addition to representing clients with a wide range of transactional legal needs, CEP students work in small groups to connect with community organizations, identify transactional legal needs common to their community, and develop tailor-made, comprehensive strategies to address those needs.

Cooperative Connection

During the fall semester, a group of CEP students will work closely with SELC staff to create a comprehensive guide that demystifies the myriad laws related to forming and operating a cooperative business in Massachusetts. The collaboration between CEP and SELC will afford the students access to some of the nation’s foremost experts on cooperatives, while CEP’s local community ties and outreach efforts ensure that the guide will benefit from a strong network of cooperative lawyers and technical assistance providers in Greater Boston, as well. Once finished, the guide will be published, translated, and distributed through the Transactional Law Clinics’ website and through the project’s community partners, as well as hosted by SELC on the state-by-state resources page of their popular website, www.co-oplaw.org.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship

CEPIn addition to the cooperative guide, CEP tapped SELC’s expertise to finalize a document produced last semester by CEP students Susan Nalunkuma, LL.M. ’15, Steven Salcedo, J.D. ’16, and Diaz. This document, A Legal Overview of Business Ownership for Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Massachusetts, was created in partnership with the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative and is intended for use by immigrant entrepreneurs in Massachusetts, as well as by technical assistance providers and community organizers who work with immigrant entrepreneurs across the state.

Because of the document’s comprehensive foray into diverse areas of law, preparation of the materials entailed cutting-edge research at the intersection of business law, employment law, tax law, and immigration law, bringing together dozens of lawyers, academics, and professionals in the community and across the country. Due to the profile of the project, CEP students and staff were able to connect with people such as Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant who became a lawyer in 2014 after a five-year legal battle that ended with a new state law permitting undocumented immigrants to be admitted to the California bar.

“CEP has a successful track record of creating well-researched, useful publications amid the community workshops, client representation, and other great work CEP students complete each semester. However, this project proved to be our most challenging one yet, due to the many areas of law involved and the fact that no one, to our knowledge, has ever compiled such a thorough analysis of the many legal implications of immigrant entrepreneurship. We could not have completed this project without our lead project partner (the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative) and their meaningful connections to the population at the heart of this document, and we are indebted to countless lawyers and other experts across the country who advised and supported us along the way.” ­–Amanda L. Kool, Lecturer on Law  

Though the document was only recently published, A Legal Overview of Business Ownership for Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Massachusetts promises to have national significance, as other organizations already plan to build upon CEP’s work by creating new iterations of the document for other states across the U.S. This fall, Professor Eliza Platts-Mills and her students in the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic of the University of Texas Law School will be modeling CEP’s project on behalf of immigrant entrepreneurs in Texas, and similar collaborations have been proposed by lawyers in other states. CEP and SELC are currently exploring ways in which SELC can host these state-specific resources for immigrant entrepreneurs on their popular website.

“Working on the immigrant entrepreneurs document has served as an invaluable source of development for me,” Diaz said. “The project presented an opportunity to make a significant impact in uncharted legal territory, uncovering a rabbit hole of legal research possibilities. The effect we have been able to spark on a sizable underrepresented population is a testament to CEP, which allows students to tap into their entrepreneurial spirits and target relevant issues afflicting local community members. I cannot wait to see that effect expand, as organizations around the country build upon the foundation we have built.” –Matt

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Community Enterprise Project of the Transactional Law Clinics

Application Deadline: April 3, 2015 
Community Enterprise Project of the Transactional Law Clinics

Please see below for information regarding the Community Enterprise Project, a by-application clinical opportunity offered by the Transactional Law Clinics. Applications to the Community Enterprise Project are due to the clinic by Friday, April 3. For more information about the Transactional Law Clinics or the clinical programs offered here at HLS generally, please visit our website, check out the HLS Course Catalog, or contact us directly!

Clinical Opportunity for Collaborative, Community-Based Transactional Work

The Community Enterprise Project is a by-application division of the Transactional Law Clinics in which students engage in both direct client representation and community economic development. In addition to representing clients located near the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School on transactional matters, CEP students work in small groups to connect with community organizations, identify organizational and community legal needs, and develop comprehensive strategies to address those needs while gaining valuable, real-world transactional law experience in a community setting.

To apply to CEP, please submit a statement of interest (no more than 200 words) and resume. In your cover email, please indicate whether you have a preference for taking CEP during the Fall semester, Spring semester, or either.

Please note that CEP students must commit to spending at least half of their clinical hours on Wednesdays and/or Thursdays at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School in Jamaica Plain.

CEP applications should be addressed to Brian Price and Amanda Kool and submitted via e-mail to akool@law.harvard.edu and clinical@law.harvard.edu. Interested students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, and all applications must be submitted by Friday, April 3rd.  Students will be notified of decisions on Tuesday, April 7th. For any questions about CEP, contact Amanda directly.

If accepted, students will register for 3 or 4 clinical credits through the Transactional Law Clinics and 2 course credits for the associated clinical seminar. Continuing TLC students may take CEP for 2, 3, or 4 clinical credits and do not need to register in the associated clinical seminar.

Alumni Profiles: Professor Luz E. Herrera ’99

Luz E. Herrera, HLS J.D. '99

Luz E. Herrera, HLS J.D. ’99

Professor Luz E. Herrera, HLS J.D. ’99, is Assistant Dean for Clinical Education, Experiential Learning, and Public Service at the UCLA School of Law. Prior to this appointment, she was Assistant Professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, where she directed the Small Business Law Center (SBLC) – a clinical program that provides legal services to nonprofits and public spirited entrepreneurs and she helped found the Center for Solo Practitioners, a program to help graduates understand how to establish and run their own law firms to serve underserved populations. She was also a Visiting Clinical Professor at the University of California Irvine School of Law, where she taught students in the Consumer Protection and the Community Economic Development clinics.

Her scholarship focuses on helping young lawyers in their effort to launch their own law practice and provide assistance to traditionally underserved communities. Professor Herrera has written many articles on this matter including, Training Lawyer Entrepreneurs, Rethinking Private Attorney Involvement Through a ‘Low Bono’ Lens, and Educating Main Street Lawyers. Her research and ideas seek to address the access to civil justice gap and call for an inclusive response to the needs of both clients and legal service providers.

In May of 2002, she opened her own practice to help her community members in the Compton community of Los Angeles, in the area of family law, estate planning, real estate and business transactions. In 2005 she also founded Community Lawyers, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides affordable legal services to underserved communities. And from 2006 to 2007, she returned to Harvard Law School to work as a Senior Clinical Fellow, supervising students in the Community Enterprise Project (CEP) at the Legal Services Center – a clinic where she also worked as a Harvard Law student.

When asked what advice she would give to current students, Professor Herrera said “I’d encourage them to be introspective about how their personal story and life experiences contribute to the law. They may find fulfilling opportunities in places and settings they may have never expected or know about.”

“My own career as a solo practitioner in an underserved community was fulfilling. It allowed me to advance my interest in helping those who didn’t have the money to hire lawyers at market rates, to use my language skills in a professional setting and to learn to advocate for a more inclusive public service agenda.”

Many Advocates, One Goal: How Lawyers Can Use Community Partnerships to Foster Local Economic Development

Via the American Bar Association, Business Law Section Community Economic Development Newsletter

By: Amanda L. Kool, Attorney and Clinical Fellow, Harvard Transactional Law Clinics, and Brett Heeger, J.D. Candidate May 2014, Harvard Law School

Introduction
Community partnerships provide a promising mechanism through which lawyers can promote economic development. When lawyers serve to connect valuable resources rather than solely respond to the needs of individual clients, they can better contribute to the dismantling of legal barriers to economic development. This article will highlight the efforts of the Harvard Transactional Law Clinics, specifically the clinic’s Community Enterprise Project, to use collaborative, project-based lawyering to address systemic legal barriers in the City of Boston. Though law school clinics are well-positioned to implement innovative models for the delivery of legal services, practitioners in other settings can leverage similar models for the benefit of their clients and local communities.

The Traditional Clinical Legal Services Model
Law school clinical programs have risen in popularity as a means to provide law students with an experiential education while delivering valuable legal services to the communities to which the schools belong. In recent years, many law schools have expanded their clinical offerings beyond the traditional model that paired a law student (under the supervision of a practicing attorney) with a low-income individual facing a court appearance or other litigation-related matters. These law schools now offer a range of clinical programs tailored to the interests of the student body, the expertise of faculty, and the particular needs of clients in the area. In addition to expanded litigation-based offerings and policy clinics, some schools have instituted transactional clinical programs. These programs often assist individuals, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations of limited means with some combination of entity formation, contract negotiation and preparation, advice on protecting intellectual property, and (less often) real estate transactions. By participating in these clinics, law students gain not only the substantive legal skills necessary to complete such transactions, but also develop valuable “soft” skills, including experience with client interviewing, issue identification, and case management; in turn, clients of transactional clinics enjoy access to types of legal services not typically offered by other low-cost or pro bono legal services providers.

Read the full article here. 

TLC’s Community Enterprise Project welcomes young hip-hop artists to Harvard Law School

© Photo by Alex Horn
Studio Heat students with Brett Heeger ’14 and Amanda Kool, back right

By: Amanda Kool
Clinical Fellow Transactional Law Clinic

Upon first meeting his new client Javon, aka “Yung Fresh,” clinical student Brett Heeger ’14 asked if Javon’s recent performance to over one hundred corporate leaders from Converse was his biggest performance. “No,” Javon casually replied, “at the Boston Urban Music Festival, I performed to about 50,000 people.” At the time of the Festival, Javon was fourteen years old.

Javon is the senior member of Studio Heat, a group of young Boston musicians that have grown out of the Music Clubhouse at the Blue Hill Chapter of the Boys and Girls Club in Boston. Ranging in age from pre-teen to 18, some of these students have already achieved measures of success that many adults will never obtain. A recent visit to the group’s facilities in Dorchester found students engaged in music lessons, songwriting sessions and laying down tracks, led primarily by senior students in Studio Heat and volunteers.

On November 11, Heeger and the Harvard Transactional Law Clinics (TLC) had the chance to welcome seven middle and high school students from Studio Heat to HLS as part of an introduction to the broader world of the music business. After a brief tour of campus, the group engaged in a mock negotiation intended to teach the students about the role of lawyers in the music industry. The students served as junior attorneys in a negotiation between Royal T (derived from a negotiation exercise created by alum Rafael Mares ’99 while a student in the HLS Recording Artists Project), a fictional recording artist portrayed by Clinical Fellow Amanda Kool, and a fictional record label, Ames Production Company, represented by TLC student Josh Wackerly ‘14. Heeger filled the role of senior attorney on behalf of Royal T, while Professor Brian Price, Director of TLC, served as senior attorney for the production company. Over nearly two hours of client meetings and negotiations, the Studio Heat ‘attorneys’ were able to draft a record deal addressing a number of essential contract terms, including the term  length, advance payments, and ownership of creative rights.

In a debrief over refreshments, students reflected on the exercise and discussed the important and surprisingly large role of lawyers in the music industry. Kirkland Lynch ’14 and Lauren Gore ’14 also joined the conversation to share their experiences working in the music industry and attending law school. Each emphasized how important building a supportive community can be to making choices that might lead to a path of success, whether as an artist or to Harvard Law School. The young students shared their own aspirations, in the music industry and otherwise. One student commented that he now realized that signing a record deal didn’t equal instant fame or success while another admitted that she was considering becoming a lawyer if her plans to make it as a hip hop artist didn’t pan out. Rick Aggeler, Senior Music Director of Studio Heat, said, “[The kids] were so thrilled about the whole experience.  From the tour itself, to working with “Royal T”, and having Brett and Brian act as advisors during the negotiation, it was honestly for me as well one of the coolest field trips I’ve ever gotten to take our kids on.”

The Studio Heat visit to HLS grew out of TLC’s new Community Enterprise Project (CEP), a sub-clinic of TLC that Kool is in the process of growing into its own, stand-alone clinic. CJ Azubuine, Senior Manager of Harvard’s Office of Event Scheduling and Support and volunteer at the Music Clubhouse, originally contacted Professor Price with some basic legal questions related to Studio Heat.  “We’re continuing to help Studio Heat out with some really interesting legal issues, including questions of copyright and licensing when all of the students are minors,” Heeger explained, “and the great part of CEP is that we’re encouraged to think creatively about how to bring our legal expertise to bear to serve our clients.”

Where TLC operates much like a law firm by responding to client requests for direct legal services, CEP aims to engage traditionally underserved neighborhoods in a more proactive way, partnering with community organizations to identify organizational and community needs and develop comprehensive strategies, whether legal or otherwise, to address those needs. Price explains, “When the Clinic moved from the Legal Services Center to campus, we lost some of our connections to Boston’s neighborhoods. I am thrilled that CEP has reemerged and glad to see TLC clinic students back in Jamaica Plain, serving people in and around that community.”

Law students have also responded positively to this opportunity; Heeger and Wackerly are two of the three students in the Community Enterprise Project this semester, and Kool expects the program to contain six students next semester. Heeger reflected on how CEP’s approach to lawyering influenced his representation of Studio Heat. “Here, in conversations with Rick, CJ, and Javon, we realized that the kids themselves could really benefit from an engaging experience with music law, rather than exclusively receiving traditional legal advice from their lawyers. With the team emphasis of CEP, and encouragement from Brian and Amanda, we were able to put together a broader program that was educational and I think extremely fun for both sides.”

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