As a sharing lawyer, Janelle Orsi thought she would write agreements and form organizations. She quickly realized however, that her clients were continually running up against legal barriers that were too high and too difficult for people to navigate. In go-getter fashion, Orsi co-founded, along with attorney Jenny Kassan, the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) to break down some of the legal barriers and help people navigate them.Read more
The Sustainable Living Research Ordinance (SLRO) provides Goleta local government with a regulatory pathway to enable residential sustainability projects and designs otherwise illegal under current law. The ordinance does so by designating a property as a "Sustainable Living Research Site," where practices including natural building, onsite wastewater treatment, and self-sustaining agricultural villages would be permitted uses.Read more
SELC has been working hard since our last newsletter and we want you, our friends and supporters, to know what we've been up to. Read below for 20 exciting ways that SELC has been leading the way towards more just and resilient economies!
1. Legal Cafes
SELC is providing one of the most innovative legal advice clinics in the country, the Resilient Communities Legal Cafe. It's 1/3 Legal Advice Clinic, 1/3 Living Classroom, 1/3 Community Building and Collaboration Space! SELC staff and volunteer attorneys provide pay-it-forward legal advice for projects and organizations that build the sharing economy.
SELC's Director of City Policies and Community Currencies, Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, discusses the sharing economy with host Michelle Chan.Read more
1) Janelle Orsi, executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, which hosts regular "legal cafes" to offer free advice for small farmers, food entrepreneurs, and others creating positive alternatives. While their work is localized to California, it's a wonderful model to follow. (See her book, Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy.) @JanelleOrsiRead more
Recent legal and regulatory troubles for companies like Airbnb, Lyft and Uber are alerting people to the fact that sharing isn't always rainbows and bunnies.Read more
SELC is supporting AB 1024, An Act to facilitate cooperative ownership of housing in California, along with several other organizations around the state. The bill passed unanimously out of the Committee on Housing and Community Development in the California State Assembly last month and is heading towards the Judiciary Committee. Click here to learn more.
I woke up particularly early this morning, and I was surprisingly reflective (given how very early it was). “It’s sunny,” I thought. “I’m back in the East Bay,” I thought. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do,” I thought.
But to be honest, working full time for a nonprofit law center and reading the law outside of law school was not what I was planning to do with my life. A year ago, I was on track for graduate school. Like a lot of young college grads, I was following “The Plan,” which is to spend 4-10 more years in yet another school program, rack up debt, and wait for a degree before I could do the things I wanted to do.
Why was I so set on graduate school? I was following The Plan, certainly, but I had three other good reasons. Reason #1: I love to learn. Reason #2: Watching my dad teach and seeing the impact he has on his students’ lives proved how powerful teaching could be. Reason #3: Teaching my own student-led course when I was a student at UC Berkeley made me realize that I also love to teach.Read more
The Sustainable Economies Law Center has been working with an international team (no joke!) to create our new logo that will help shape the look for our eResources websites like Co-opLaw.org, UrbanAgLaw.org, CommunityCurrenciesLaw.org, and more!
Our developer, Timo ten Feld, researched the Sustainable Economies Law Center's efforts, accomplishments, and vision and had this to say about how he came up with SELC's new look: The SELC logo is an "organically grown, vibrant little logo made with a little bit of help from Aotearoa’s beautiful South Island [New Zealand]."
“What? You can do that!? I’ve never heard of that before…”
“Yes, in California you can do that, really, yeah, I know, not that many people know about it. Lots of attorneys don’t even know about it.”
This is how many conversations go when I first meet people who ask me what I do and I explain that I’m an apprentice at a law firm as part of the California State Bar’s Law Office Study Program, which means that I’m becoming an attorney without going to any formal law school. While I’ve had pretty much this exact same conversation with so many people in my first year and three months as an independent study law student, I’m still not tired of it yet!Read more
I discovered a new hero tonight, and it’s not just because Belva Lockwood advocated in the 1860s for the notion that girls should be taught to roller skate. Lockwood was one of this country’s first woman lawyers, and the first woman to be admitted to practice under and argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. My partner was reading a history book about Lockwood, CA this evening and declared that our apprentice blog could potentially be called LikeLockwood, instead of LikeLincoln. Lockwood wasn’t a lawyer’s apprentice, but since she was repeatedly blocked from attending law school and lectures in her attempt to become a lawyer, she was partially a self-taught lawyer. Lockwood’s story could be an inspiring one for the legal apprenticeship movement, and it’s not only because she found many creative ways to learn the law outside of law school. I’m also struck by the fact that, in the same way that women were denied the ability to practice law in the 1800s, being low-income today may constructively block someone from doing so by virtue of the high costs of law school.Read more
At our recent Think Outside The Boss Workshop in Berkeley, we asked participants to tell us what co-ops meant to them. Check out the slideshow above to see the diversity of faces and answers we received.
Cooperatives aren't some utopian, hair-brained, hippie scheme. They support an incredibly diverse range of people from all over our communities, from families (did you see the baby above?) to young entrepreneurs to faith-based communities to immigrants.Read more
It’s time for a new kind of energy. Community renewable energy is clean, small-scale, and owned or sponsored by communities. That's why it creates democratic, resilient energy grids with distributed economic benefits. Join the Sustainable Economies Law Center's expert panelists for a conversation about the legal barriers, policy opportunities, and steps to creating this new energy future.
11:30am - 12:30pm PDT / 2:30pm - 3:30pm EDT
If you’re starting (or thinking of starting) a sharing economy company, there’s a very good chance you’ll wonder at some point: ”Is this actually legal?”Read more
One of the responsibilities of an attorney supervising legal apprentices in California is to administer an exam to apprentices once per month. When I sat down to write the first apprentice exam, it suddenly hit me that I had no idea what I was doing. “Pretend you are a Jeopardy contestant,” I told myself, “start with the answers, and then write a question that would elicit that answer.” But, no. A game of Jeopardy is about right and wrong answers/questions, and practicing law is about interpreting, arguing, analyzing, and navigating within vast grey areas. “Hmm…,” I thought, “writing an exam is harder than taking one!”Read more