University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Course Catalog

Community Equity and Development Seminar: Legal Theory and Practice (6)

This LTP seminar is designed to engage students with the legal concerns of urban communities, satisfy the Cardin requirement, and augment the transactional offerings in the curriculum. Each term students concentrate on a legal/practical matter of concern to neighborhoods that lack access to needed legal services. Typically, students interview and counsel clients, prepare a range of office documents, including entity formation documents, legal memos, contracts, leases, and client advice letters. The specific topic of the legal work each term is one that has become apparent through faculty members’ work with low-income communities . Examples of student work in past semesters include: formation of a not-for-profit food hub in a disinvested neighborhood; legal advice to community gardeners and local-food entrepreneurs; non-profit entity formation on behalf of Baltimore-area communities to assert greater control over the direction of redevelopment projects; tax-exemption advocacy; the development of legal structures for interior-block community green spaces; models of affordable housing trusts and housing equity partnerships to enhance affordable housing opportunities.

This LTP clinical seminar is an opportunity for students to integrate legal theory with their representation of organizational clients as they develop technical legal assistance that supports community-directed efforts for revitalization. Students’ legal work includes careful research, analysis, and theory development, in symbiosis with on-the-ground fact investigation conducted with community participants. As student attorneys, students will write extensively, bring a potential revitalization strategy to the point where a community can retain specific legal services to pursue its objectives. Students will analyze legal doctrines and devices for the control of or participation in land ownership, use, transfer, finance and income production in community development projects.

The seminar component provides a legal policy and pragmatic framework for students' work with communities. We will meet as a group twice a week, as scheduled, with two purposes: (1) to build that framework, and (2) in law practice meetings directed to peer exchange, practice dilemmas, and applications of seminar topics in our client matters. Topics usually include: choice and formation of entity for community endeavors; the legal framework for government-subsidized community development programs; legal theories for redressing the harms associated with vacant urban properties; legal strategies in the field of community economic development; and models of lawyering/lawyer-identity formation. Additional topics may include: social enterprise, hybrid entities, ‘business planning’ for not-for-profits, housing affordability, real estate development and finance.

Time commitments: Students are expected to devote an average of 16 hours per week to their fieldwork, participate in the weekly seminar session, and meet at least weekly in supervisory sessions to discuss the practical, theoretical and ethical aspects of their community development work. A substantial paper presenting the community partner’s problem statement, extended analysis of legal and systemic barriers to achievement of the community’s goals, and proposed problem solution(s), is also required. Papers meeting the requisite standards may be used to satisfy the Certification Requirement.

There are no specific courses, pre-requisites or co-requisites. Prior experience in community organizing, non-profits, small business, real estate or planning, is welcome. Suitable for evening division students with flexibility in their schedules to meet during the work day by prearrangement. This clinic satisfies the Cardin Requirement.

Students who enroll in this course are required to attend a full, one day Law Practice Orientation Program.

Current & Previous Instructors:
Barbara Bezdek;

This course is not currently scheduled.
Last offered Fall 2016.

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course

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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Admissions: PHONE: (410) 706-3492 FAX: (410) 706-1793

Copyright © 2018, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved