1. Tell us a little about yourself and the educational or career path you took to get to where you are now?
My name is Priya Baskaran and I am an Associate Professor and Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic (EILC) at the West Virginia University School of Law. In law school, I was fortunate enough to take the Urban Communities Clinic – a transactional clinic that supported nonprofits, community organizations, and small businesses in Detroit. I fell in love with Detroit, which in many ways resembled my hometown of Pittsburgh. My clients were working to support and preserve their communities in the face of systemic and structural racism and inequity that spanned decades.
2. What specifically drew you to working with social enterprises and democratically-led organizations, such as cooperatives?
I love supporting organizations invested in the economic security of their communities. In order to create sustainable economic growth, we need greater community involvement and input. So much economic development work focuses on luring large employers. These companies have no true ties to the community and are all too quick to divest during economic hardship. The community remains voiceless and economically hampered. In stark contrast, many of the social enterprises I have represented embody a community driven model in their mission. They seem themselves as local enterprises and are dedicated to serving, employing, and positively contributing to the community.
3. What do you find to be the most challenging about being a lawyer [or law student, legal apprentice, or other legal professional]?
As a lawyer, I play a very limited role. While I can be helpful, my clients need so many additional things to be successful: access to capital, infrastructure, affordable business services like accounting and web development. I wish I could do more to support my clients who...Continue Reading