Jay Cumberland

Jay Cumberland

Legal Research and Policy Specialist 

As a Legal Research and Policy Specialist at SELC, Jay supports the Policy Circle and Cooperatives Circle. He assists with Policy Cafes, which allow community members to obtain legal advice on forming and implementing policies at the state and local levels. He assists in identifying policy opportunities related to worker cooperatives, and he works with the Worker Coop Brigade, a group of worker coop worker-owners, to pursue those opportunities. He also performs research on miscellaneous topics, like the possibility of allowing self-directed solo 401(k)s to invest in local economies.

Jay attends the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where he is in his second year. He became interested in the cooperative and commons movements upon learning of Cooperation Jackson—a self-described “emerging vehicle for sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership.” Jay is from Jackson, Mississippi, but had left the South to become a lawyer focused on alleviating poverty. Upon learning of Cooperation Jackson, he realized he had tragically underestimated the ability of ordinary people to achieve self-determination. That realization led Jay to focus on how lawyers and the law can aid urban groups seeking community power and self-sufficiency outside the market and state.

Prior to law school, Jay attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, where he graduated with degrees in philosophy and religion. He worked for Impact America (formerly Impact Alabama) where he travelled Alabama’s backroads screening pre-K and kindergarten students for vision defects, taught middle school debate at John Herbert Phillips Academy, lead an AP Calculus prep course for Birmingham public school students, and managed the Montgomery, Alabama VITA tax preparation site, the largest in the state. He also worked as the head legal assistant at a personal injury firm serving low-income people of color in Birmingham.

Roles at the Law Center

Program Areas: 

  • Support: Transformative Policymakers

  • Support: Policy Cafe

  • Support: Cooperatives







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