Internships

Below, please find information about the Sustainable Economies Law Center intern opportunities.

Intern at the Law Center

We are always looking for passionate individuals who want to take their volunteer participation at Sustainable Economies Law Center to the next level by becoming an intern. We take intern applications on a rolling basis. 

How do we define intern?

Typically, our interns are unpaid persons who work approximately 15-25 hours per week under the supervision of one or more staff members and are one of the following:

  • Interning in connection with an academic or vocational program that is directly related to our work; or,

  • Those who are not currently enrolled in an academic or vocational program but are interning with us for educational and training purposes in order to gain the skills and experience necessary to pursue a career related to our work.

What does interning with us look like?

Our interns have done in-depth legal research, provided participatory educational trainings, supported client relationships and advice sessions, produced how-to guides for legal professionals and the general public, and much more! Interns are usually required to work at our office for a portion of their hours and then are allowed to work remotely for their remaining hours. Some interns have worked their entire internship remotely, with meetings and check-ins done virtually. Each internship experience is different and is crafted to meet the aspirations of both the intern and our organization.

What are the benefits of interning with us?

Sustainable Economies Law Center is a dynamic, evolving, and forward thinking organization! We are a democratically run organization that practices participatory management. We are on the cutting edge of transactional law issues and provide essential legal and organizational support to radical organizations moving our communities to deep democratic ownership and practices. Here are even more benefits to interning with us:

  • Each intern who is part of a structured internship program or is interning with us in connection with an educational institution is given a personal and professional development budget which they may choose to spend on outside trainings, travel to conferences, purchasing books and materials, or other expenses related to their education.

  • Each intern is provided two support staff to develop their professional skills and legal expertise.

  • Each intern is provided with networking opportunities and connections to community based organizations. 

  • Each intern participates in a structured, learner-centered curriculum that deepens their knowledge of the intersection of economic justice, transactional law, and generative responses to systems of marginalization and oppression.

What are the qualities we look for in interns and volunteers? 

At Sustainable Economies Law Center, we are a lean, effective, and collectively-run organization. We look for volunteers and interns who possess some of the following qualities:

  • Interested and willing to learn;

  • Realistic about availability and skill level;

  • Can work independently;

  • Good communication skills;

  • Responsive;

  • Accountable;

  • Flexible schedule (i.e. can occasionally meet with staff during normal business hours when needed);

  • Has prior research experience, ideally in the legal field;

  • Willingness to do non-sexy tasks;

  • Committed to our Mission.

Current Project Opportunities for Interns (2019 Spring - Summer - Fall)

Below are some of the project opportunities for interns. This list is not necessarily comprehensive and we do have accepted interns who have their own project ideas.

Intro to Cooperative Entity Formation Video Series
Our Intro to Cooperative Entity Formation Video Series, aka "Community Education Video Series" will demystify and build understanding of the various models of worker and employee ownership for entrepreneurs and community based organizations (CBO) integrating employee ownership into their social enterprises. Our Director of Economic Democracy will lead the Community Education Video Series covering the various forms of worker ownership featuring conversations with experienced attorneys, worker-owners, and thought leaders. A decision matrix guiding entrepreneurs through appropriate worker ownership options will complement the video series which will published online in thematic modules.

Our Community Education Video Series will provide an overview of the various forms of worker ownership and describe the legal advantages/drawbacks of choosing one form over another.

Intern Opportunities:

  • Research and record the most prevalent State incorporation laws used by cooperative enterprises across at least 10 States.

  • Support in the development of introductory materials for each State and create introductory materials about the similarities and differences between States entity options.

  • Coordinate with attorneys to be interviewed for the video series.

  • Support in the development and coordination of stakeholder groups and Advisory Board members providing feedback on the development of the Community Education Video Series.

Co-opLaw.org
Our comprehensive worker-owner legal resource library, Co-opLaw.org, will provide a central legal resource hub for attorneys and entrepreneurs ready to dive deeper into cooperative law and serve as a place to disseminate the resources created through the various projects at the Law Center related to democratically governed, worker-owned enterprises. We are currently working with individuals and organizations across the country to create accessible legal guides for those involved in or interested in forming cooperatives. We've also begun building out our State-by-State guides on Co-opLaw.org, which you can view here. These resources will lower the cost of legal services needed to launch a worker cooperative or transition a business to worker ownership.

Co-opLaw.org will be redesigned to increase usability and expand cooperative law concepts. By the end of 2021, we are looking to have published a detailed analysis of cooperative formation options and sample documents for all 50 states.

Intern Opportunities:

  • Provide feedback and support on the usability, architecture, and design of Co-opLaw.org.

  • Develop one State page for Co-opLaw.org detailing common legal entities used, cooperative case law, existing cooperatives, cooperative support organizations, and more.

  • Support in identifying Co-opLaw.org State-by-State authors at law schools, legal clinics, and legal professional organizations.

  • Support in the development and coordination of stakeholder groups and Advisory Board members providing feedback on the development of the Co-opLaw.org.

Resilient Communities Legal Cafe
The Law Center believes that reliable and affordable legal support should be available to all those creating the transition to localized, resilient economies. The Law Center’s Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, a walk-in legal clinic, has provided legal services to more than 1,000 Bay Area micro-entrepreneurs (local small businesses, home cooks, and food truck operators), urban farmers, grassroots groups, and cooperative enterprises. The Law Center hosts three Legal Cafes per month in coffee shops and other community spaces, where staff and volunteer attorneys offer one-on-one advice sessions with walk-in clients, who otherwise would not have been able to afford such services. The Law Center often hosts “Teach-Ins” or community discussions alongside each Legal Cafe. The Law Center also hosts quarterly events called “Cafecitos Legales,” bringing together immigrant workers, worker-owners, and entrepreneurs to build community with each other, learn about the law, and interact with and receive support from multilingual legal professionals.

Intern Opportunities:

  • Staff one to three Legal Cafes per month of the internship.

  • Support issue spotting during client intake.

  • Develop short resource memos for client’s during advice sessions.

  • Provide one Teach-In on a topic of the interns choice.

Worker Self-Directed Nonprofits
As the movement for economic and workplace democracy continues to grow, we think it is vitally important that nonprofit organizations also internalize and practice workplace democracy. We've put a fair bit of thought into our own organizational structure and culture, and now we are working to provide resources, advice, research, and a peer network to support worker self-direction in nonprofits everywhere. Worker self-directed nonprofits are nonprofit organizations in which all workers have the power to influence the programs in which they work, the conditions of their workplace, their own career paths, and the direction of the organization as a whole.

Intern Opportunities:

  • Support communications strategy, outreach, logistics, and content delivery for day long Worker Self-Directed Nonprofit trainings.

  • Review and provide feedback on training curriculum.

  • Support the creation of new resources for trainings, including model documents and explanatory videos in our WSDN TV series.

Interested in becoming an intern?

If you are interested in becoming an intern, please email Janelle Orsi at janelle@theselc.org and do the following:

  1. write in the email subject line, "Intern Application [WRITE YOUR NAME],"

  2. provide a cover letter: the cover letter should

    • specify that you are applying for an internship position,

    • include a short description about yourself,

    • a short description about why you are passionate about economic, environmental, or social justice,

    • a description of the program area(s) you would like to work in and in what capacity (extra points if you reference one of the Current Project Opportunities for Interns listed above!), and

    • a description of the time frame you are seeking to intern with the Law Center;

  3. provide a resume or CV, and

  4. provide a writing sample.

Thank you for your interest in interning at the Law Center!


 

SELC builds the legal roots of resilient economies!

Below is a sampling of specific projects identified that will need support from legal interns during the summer internship.

  • Legal Resource Libraries: We manage and curate five online legal resource libraries stocked with legal guidelines, FAQs, and templates to help navigate complex regulatory landscapes for urban farming, cooperatives, small and community-owned enterprise, community currencies, and food and farming enterprises. We are seeking support with legal research, building strategic partnerships with legal professionals around the country, and website maintenance.
  • Tu Negocio Cooperativa: Our half day popular education workshop, Think Outside the Boss, has been translated into Spanish and is provided at community centers around the Bay Area. We are seeking a Spanish speaking individual who will be able to facilitate a portion of the workshop as well as research areas of law related to cooperative businesses owned by undocumented immigrants.
  • Policy Advocacy for the Promotion of Worker Cooperatives: Currently, we are working with cities in the Bay Area to create ordinances that would lower barriers to the creation of worker cooperatives, establish preferential city purchasing from and contracting with worker cooperatives, create a revolving loan fund for worker coops, and provide funding to organizations providing incubation and technical assistance to worker owned businesses. We are seeking those interested in supporting policy efforts through research, coalition building, and strategic planning.
  • Resilient Communities Legal Cafe: We provide direct legal support to enterprises building a new economy at our Legal Cafes. We're looking for interns to facilitate intake, learn how to provide adequate and specialized legal consultations, and research legal issues that are brought to us by clients.

Other Ways to Get Involved

If you are interested in being involved in our work in other ways, we welcome you to visit our volunteer page and to attend any of our many events, including Legal Cafesworkshops, and happy hours, in order to meet our staff members and make a personal connection.

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Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: