Does the Sharing Economy Need Lawyers?

By Bronwen Morgan, Post Growth Institute

Ordinary people, perhaps frustrated with the inertia of government policies and large-scale corporate routines and practices, are experimenting with different ways of moving around, powering themselves, securing food and making a living, with as little waste as possible. [...] Much more rarely explored is the question: what kind of legal and regulatory support structures will help such experimental initiatives to flourish? We think four things will matter most.

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Meet Us at the Legal Cafe: Interview with Chris Tittle, Director of Organizational Resilience

"The concept of resilience is about learning from the natural world how to adapt and respond to change. In a time of so many converging transitions – in the regenerative capacity of the Earth, in the ways we meet our individual and collective needs, in how we relate to the larger web of life around us – how can we build our collective capacity to adjust and co-evolve in response to changing conditions around us? In the social and economic context, resilience is about creating more culturally appropriate and community-determined ways of meeting our needs, and re-embedding our economies in real human relationships."

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Ask a Food Lawyer: Breaking Down Legal Barriers for Small-Scale Local Food

"If we are going to move from the current centralized food system to a local, diversified new food economy, sharing has to be part of the solution. Corporate control of our food system vests decision-making power with a very small group of people whose profit-maximizing goals often deplete resources from communities rather than strengthen them..."

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Raising a Nation of Lincolns: An Interview with Janelle Orsi, “The Sharing Lawyer”

That what a peer-to-peer economy needs is more attorneys might, in lay people, spark cognitive dissonance. The problem, according to Orsi, is how society thinks about lawyers. And to fix a modern problem, she and her colleagues are leaning on the model of that famous attorney of centuries past, Abraham Lincoln.

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The California Homemade Food Act

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1616, the California Homemade Food Act, into law on September 21, 2012, and it went into effect on January 1, 2013. Now it is legal to produce some types of food for sale in a home kitchen. Next year, the California Neighborhood Food Act will likely become law, enabling citizens to legally sell produce grown on residential lots. The two laws will work together synergistically, such that tiny food artisans may source from tiny growers.

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So You Want to Start a Food Business

Food biz proprietors and other local experts offer their top tips for new food entrepreneurs.

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Profiles in Sharing: Janelle Orsi - The Sharing Economy Lawyer

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.

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Terra Verde, KPFA: Special on the Legal Barriers to the Sharing Economy

SELC's Director of City Policies and Community Currencies, Yassi Eskandari-Qajar, discusses the sharing economy with host Michelle Chan.

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Top 10 Crusaders in the Food Movement -- Lawyer Edition

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.) @JanelleOrsi

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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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