Does the Sharing Economy Have a Shadow Side?

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.

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California bill to facilitate cooperative ownership of housing passes Assembly Committee

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.

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WHERE AM I? HOW I DECIDED LEGAL APPRENTICESHIP WAS THE RIGHT PATH FOR ME.

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.

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SELC has a new look!

SELC_symbol_colour_RGB(for_screen).jpgThe 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]."

 

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RISING DEBT WHILE STUDYING LAW? NOT FOR THIS LEGAL APPRENTICE!

Christina is a Legal Apprentice

“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!

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WORTH THE READ: BELVA LOCKWOOD’S “MY EFFORTS TO BECOME A LAWYER”

Belva A. Lockwood

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.

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Faces of the Bay Area Cooperatives Movement

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.

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Community Renewable Energy Webinar Tuesday 4/30

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

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The Care and Feeding of Your Sharing Economy Lawyer

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?”

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THIS. IS. [NOT.] JEOPARDY. THOUGHTS ON HOW TO WRITE AN APPRENTICE EXAM

The first apprentice exam was all about housing cooperatives.

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!”

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ONE REVOLUTION

Two years ago I was living in a grass thatched, mud hut. My communication with the outside world was done from atop a two-story termite mound. I bathed from a bucket under the shade of trees. And my diet consisted of boiled leaves, caterpillars, and hard porridge. Now, I’m beginning a Law Office study program in one of the most technologically advanced and innovative areas of the world. I’m Ricardo Samir Nuñez and I’m a Legal Apprentice at the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

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Share and Share Alike: A Profile of Janelle Orsi

When it comes to sharing with others, Janelle Orsi practices what she preaches. Orsi, an Oakland solo practitioner, specializes in a new niche: “sharing law.” She even wrote the book on it: Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy (ABA Books, 2012).

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FOLLOWING IN LINCOLN’S FOOTSTEPS

Abraham Lincoln never went to law school; yet, he is one of the most celebrated lawyers in U.S. history. Society take note: Going to law school is not the only route to becoming a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer. In fact, becoming a lawyer by apprenticing may be an incredibly effective way to learn how to practice law. The apprenticeship route to becoming a lawyer makes the legal profession accessible to those who cannot afford the time and expense of law school, and offers innumerable other benefits to apprentices, supervising attorneys, and society.

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Share Everything: Why the Way We Consume Has Changed Forever

The so-called sharing economy has been described as being about many things: Millennials rejecting car ownership, the environmentally conscious glomming onto the latest eco-trend, broke urbanites who will want all their own stuff again as soon as the economy recovers...

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SELC proposes CA Community Currencies Act

We believe that a resilient and just economy includes many diverse forms of exchange, allowing all members of a community to meaningfully participate in the economy and have their gifts valued appropriately. Community currencies are one way of strengthening both local economies and our national economy as a whole, by giving more people access to a means of exchange and thus increasing economic activity in ways that support, rather than destroy, local communities and the natural world.

California Corporation Code Section 107

Currently, California is one of only three states (alongside Virginia and Arkansas) in the USA that potentially prohibit the creation and circulation of local currencies. Dating back to 1849, this law is outdated, vague, and serves little purpose in the complex and dynamic economy of the 21st century.

California’s Corporations Code Section 107 reads:

“No corporation, flexible purpose corporation, association or individual shall issue or put in circulation, as money, anything but the lawful money of the United States.”

Along with our many friends and supporters across California, SELC is proposing a bill that would remove CA Corporation Code Section 107 because:

  • this law is outdated and if actually enforced, would significantly restrict economic activity in our state
  • there is a growing movement within California, across the country, and around the world to develop more democratic and inclusive means of exchange that will both stabilize and improve our local economies, and
  • community currencies have the potential to provide many underserved communities with access to capital and meaningful opportunities for work that could increase economic activity (and thus tax revenue) in socially and ecologically responsible ways.
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