1. Tell us a little about yourself and the educational or career path you took to get to where you are now?

I decided in law school to focus on tax classes because several professors and practicing lawyers told me that tax lawyers had a more "academic" practice. Working in a couple large firms, I found this was true and I think having a tax speciality provided opportunities to work on more transactions representing a wider variety of deal structures. After about 6 years with large firms, I made the tough decision to start my own practice, largely because I'd felt my learning curve was starting to level off. As a solo attorney, I had the freedom to pursue social impact work, which helped in establishing the relationships that I rely on now.

2. What specifically drew you to working with social enterprises and democratically-led organizations, such as cooperatives?

My law school focussed heavily on the intersection of the market and the law, so I was very strongly drawn to the notion that market-based solutions could achieve social goals more effectively than approaches that ignored (or worked against) individuals' economic incentives.

3. What do you find to be the most challenging about being a lawyer [or law student, legal apprentice, or other legal professional]?

For me, time management and deadlines are the most challenging aspects of practicing law.

4. What do love most about being a lawyer [or law student, legal apprentice, or other legal professional]?

It's sounds cheesy, but the "counselor" part of practicing law is the most meaningful part of my practice. I'd like to think that if a business entity or non-profit organization could visit a shrink and talk about its problems and challenges, then maybe that's me.

5. What are some of the needs you see in your community that you are hoping to address through your work?...

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This Guide discusses options for obtaining funds for farm enterprises in California through methods other than bank and institutional loans. With growing consumer interest in local sources of food, there are increasing opportunities for farmers to include their customers, friends, family, neighbors, and other community members in the farm enterprise as investors. Receiving investment dollars from community members instead of larger institutions may also be more feasible for many beginning farmers, since banks and other institutions generally only lend to well established businesses with steady revenues.

However, numerous state and federal laws apply to soliciting investments from individuals and organizations, which this Guide will explain in detail. These laws are collectively known as securities law and they are primarily designed to protect investors from entering into fraudulent or overly risky investment deals. Before asking anyone for money, farmers should be aware of the basic of securities law.

Released in September, 2017

Written by Christina Oatfield, Policy Director for the Sustainable Economies Law Center. This guide was supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Grant of the USDA-NIFA program titled, Growing Roots: Deepening Support for Diverse New Farmers and Ranchers in California, Grant # 2015-70017-22868.

Here's a few articles and podcasts that are inspiring our work and the research we need to reinvent economic systems.

We'd like YOU to contribute to this monthly feature. We'll share some of what we're reading and finding interesting but if you read (or write) an article you'd like to share on Next Legal please send the link to me!

A New Credit Union Will Focus on Clean Energy from Locavesting 
Looking for a way to shift your money from one of the big banks AND have high impact with your deposits? Blake Jones, the cofounder of Namaste Solar, has founded The Clean Energy Credit Union (CECU). The credit union, which is opening soon and is based in Colorado, will be open to members of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), a nonprofit solar advocacy group that anyone can join.

Drink Your Coffee Black-Owned from In These Times by  AJOWA NZINGA IFATEYO 
A cooperative Atlanta cafe is step one toward an alternative to white capitalism.

The Atlas of Utopias! Pretty cool project highlighting efforts around the world to reclaim water commons, create and food energy sovereignty, organize textile workers, build...

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As reported by Project Equity, almost half of the privately-held businesses in the US are owned by baby boomers, and 6 out of 10 business owners in the US are expected to sell their company over the next decade.  But many business owners will find it difficult to find a buyer when they are ready to sell, which means they will likely lay off their employees and close their doors.

But there is an opportunity to change this trajectory by helping these businesses transition to worker-cooperatives. Converting non-cooperative businesses to worker cooperatives can provide numerous benefits for the workers, the community, and the selling business owner. To read more about converting businesses to cooperatives, check out the Legal Guide to Cooperative Conversions, written by Janelle Orsi, William Lisa, and Sushil Jacob.

To check out Robert Reich's video interview with Janelle about coop conversions click here.

YES! Photos by Chris Marion. 

Here's a few articles and podcasts that are inspiring our work and the research we need to reinvent economic systems.

We'd like YOU to contribute to this monthly feature. We'll share some of what we're reading and finding interesting but if you read (or write) an article you'd like to share on Next Legal please send the link to me!

Capitalism Is Not the Only Choice from yes! magazine by Penn Loh
Recognizing these diverse economies allows us to see that there are choices to be made.

Capitalism Has a Problem. Is Free Money the Answer? from The New York Times By PETER S. GOODMAN

Panel Discussion - 37th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures
Four featured panelists discuss a variety of topics ranging from land reform, stewarding the commons, solidarity between grassroots movements, to the question of how to transition toward local, living economies.

This 1-hour cartoon video provides an overview of considerations for forming and structuring a law practice, explaining conventional entity and tax considerations, then placing a strong emphasis on cooperative and nonprofit models. One goal of the video is to encourage alternatives to conventional for-profit and hierarchical law firms. And here is a folder with the readings to accompany it. Let us know what you think!

Here's a few articles and podcasts that are inspiring our work and the research we need to reinvent economic systems.

We'd like YOU to contribute to this monthly feature. We'll share some of what we're reading and finding interesting but if you read (or write) an article you'd like to share on Next Legal please send the link to me!

The White Lies of Craft Culture from Eater by Lauren Michele Jackson  
How the obsession with artisanal foods and beverages is contributing to the erasure of people of color from the history of some of those products.

Ed Whitfield: Racial Justice Meets Non-Extractive Financing The Co-Founder of the Fund for Democratic Communities on Why Economic Justice Is Key from Lift Economy by Shawn Berry
"I'm talking about an economy that's rooted in meeting your rather than an economy that's rooted in making a profit for someone." Examining the idea of “productive justice” — who owns the capacity to produce and how can we create more opportunities for people to be fully productive.

How I Can Offer Reparations in Direct Proportion to My White Privilege from yes! magazine by Chris Moore-Backman
What it looks like to pay for the unearned advantages my whiteness has afforded me.

A row of vacant, dilapidated, and boarded up homes paint a busy street in West Baltimore. Photo by Kevon Paynter

Here's a few articles that are inspiring our work and the research we need to reinvent economic systems.

We'd like YOU to contribute to this monthly feature. We'll share some of what we're reading and finding interesting but if you read (or write) an article you'd like to share on Next Legal please send the link to me!

ComCap the Podcast: Local Investing In Vermont with Janice Shade

Baltimore’s Push to Solve Its Affordable Housing Crisis With Community Land Trusts from yes! magazine by 

Community groups in Baltimore are advocating for more community land trusts to keep housing affordable.

From Pittsburgh’s hilltop, a co-op incubator keeps startup culture down to earth, and a local economy starts to rebound from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by An-Li Herring

An incubator in Pittsburg, Work Hard Pittsburg, is supporting 37 companies and 50 freelancers the cooperative way.

 

 

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...

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Photo by MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images.

Here's a few articles that are inspiring our work and the research we need to reinvent economic systems.

We'd like YOU to contribute to this monthly feature. We'll share some of what we're reading and finding interesting but if you read (or write) an article you'd like to share on Next Legal please send the link to me!

Upcoming Event: Sanctuary Workplace Webinar. Hosted by the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives
Date July 26, 2017 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Join this call to action to extend protection and safety to all communities facing harassment and persecution in the workplace, including all people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and people with disabilities.

Climate Change Will Force Native Americans to Adapt Religious Rituals Yet Again
from yes! magazine by Rosalyn R. LaPier
The impact climate change will have on the religious rituals of Native Americans.

Amazon Is Trying to Control the Underlying Infrastructure of Our Economy
from Motherboard by Stacy Mitchell
Amazon is more than just an online retailer. This op-ed discusses the broader implications Amazon's bid to buy Whole Foods has on the...

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