Sustainable Economies Law Center exists to bridge the gap in legal expertise needed to transition from destructive economic systems to innovative and cooperative alternatives. Our 10 programs work together in identifying key leverage points in our existing economic and legal systems, removing strategic legal barriers, and creating replicable models for community resilience. We work to:
Envision more just and resilient economic and legal systems;
Identify and advocate for public policies that remove legal barriers to resilient communities while maintaining and strengthening worker, consumer and environmental protections;
Empower community-based entrepreneurs and innovators to create replicable legal structures that will form the blueprints of the new economy;
Educate communities and law-makers about the potential of new economic strategies; and
Train the next generation of community-based lawyers to meet the burgeoning legal needs of resilient communities everywhere.
See below to see how we embody this change in our own organizational structure and processes:
Part of Sustainable Economies Law Center's approach to catalyzing a more just and resilient society is to be the change we want to see. We have adopted policies that distribute "ownership" throughout the organization, allow for more dignified livelihoods, expand access to our legal services, and empower a new generation of grassroots legal experts. These policies include:
An equal and capped pay rate: Every member of our organization is compensated equally for their work - whether an attorney or not. That salary is based on two objective measures of our local economy - the average Oakland income and a regional living wage indicator calculated by the MIT Living Wage Calculator.
Decentralized governance: We take pride in our ability to get a lot done, and we credit much of our efficiency to the implementation of a highly structured system of distributed decision-making. Each program is run by a semi-autonomous circle of staff and volunteers, nested within larger circles of accountability. Our decision-making processes enable each staff member to propose projects and take significant leadership roles, optimizing individual autonomy and collective responsibility.
We have also launched a project to promote and support emerging models of decentralized nonprofit governance, which we're calling worker self-directed nonprofits. Find out more about this project here, and check out the resources, webinars, and teach-ins we've already put together to learn from and support other nonprofits.