Small Business and Community Equity Development Clinic

The Small Business & Community Equity Development Clinic engages students with the legal concerns and issues of economic and racial equity of communities in the Baltimore region. This transactional clinic satisfies the Cardin requirement and the experiential learning requirement for the Business Law track.

Student attorneys work in teams. Our practice group engages in community lawyering, which seeks to organize and empower communities and community-based organizations by utilizing a wide range of legal tools. The client work focuses on legal/practical matters of concern to neighborhoods, organizations, and small businesses that lack access to needed legal services.

Examples of student work in past semesters include:

  • serving as general counsel to worker cooperatives and nonprofit organizations;
  • formation and compliance counseling for not-for-profits, such as community kitchen, mentoring services, and housing cooperatives;
  • serving the pre- and post-launch legal needs of start-up worker-owned cooperative businesses;
  • advice and counsel to Baltimore-area communities seeking to participate in the jobs or housing in planned redevelopment projects;
  • advice and counsel on the acquisition of vacant land;
  • tax-exemption advocacy;
  • legal advice to community gardeners and local-food entrepreneurs;
  • providing legal aid to community organizations to use the state Community Bill of Rights statute to sue owners of neglected vacant properties in their neighborhoods.

Through representation of organizational clients, student attorneys typically interview and counsel clients; meet with community associations and community-based businesses of various types as they formulate and implement legal strategies; help new businesses and organizations to determine their most advantageous structure as they formalize; analyze and deploy a range of legal doctrines; and assist clients by preparing a range of transactional documents, including entity formation documents, legal memoranda, contracts, leases, and client advice letters.

The seminar component integrates legal doctrine/theory with a legal policy and pragmatic framework for student attorneys’ work with communities, organizations, and businesses. The seminar sessions have two purposes: (1) to build that framework and (2) to collaborate in law practice meetings that capitalize on peer exchange, practice dilemmas, and applications of seminar topics in our client matters.

Time commitments: Student attorneys are expected to devote an average of 21 hours per week to their clinic work. Student attorneys work in teams and are responsible for weekly team meetings. Also, each team will meet weekly with their faculty supervisor to discuss the practical, theoretical, and ethical aspects of their community equity development work. Clinic hours include: (1) weekly seminar session, (2) preparation for seminar and seminar assignments, (3) weekly student team meetings, (4) weekly supervision meetings, and (5) all client work, including research, analysis, and drafting.

Students who enroll in this course are required to attend Law Practice Orientation, as well as a 3-5 hour Small Business & Community Equity Development Clinic Orientation on the second day of Law Practice Orientation.

Pre-Requisites/Co-Requisites: Business Associations OR Not for Profit Corporations is a pre-requisite or co-requisite for this clinic.

Prior experience is welcome in community organizing, non-profits, small business, social enterprise, real estate, planning, or tax. This clinic suitable for evening division students with flexibility in their schedules to meet during the work day by prearrangement.

This course is not currently scheduled.
Last offered Spring 2020.

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