Looking for ways to support the innovative and cooperative alternatives that the Sustainable Economies Law Center is helping to cultivate? Explore the links below to learn how you can get involved!Let’s work together to move away from an economic system that incentivizes perpetual growth, wealth concentration, and the exploitation of land and people.
Want to update what volunteer email requests you receive from the Sustainable Economies Law Center? Please visit our volunteer preferences page here.
Our success depends on your support. Don't hesitate to reach out and connect!
Why Next Legal?
We have reached a critical moment in history, and lawyers are needed, en masse, to aid in the epic reinvention of economic systems throughout the world. Every single community needs legal practitioners who can assist in establishing the cooperatives, land trusts, enterprises, and organizations that will create locally-owned and sustainable sources of food, healthcare, energy, housing, transportation, and jobs.
What is this Network?
The Next Legal network will serve as an online community for those lawyers, legal workers, law students, and legal apprentices. Members will be able to connect, learn, share resources, grow their visibility, and strengthen the legal foundations of the next economy. Add your email to the form below to receive your invitation!
Members Learn, Share, and Grow their Network.
Start and join forum discussions, network with other professionals, grow your visibility through our legal practitioner directory, and receive discounts on everything from workshops and webinars to live events and CLEs.
Be a Founding Member.
Next Legal is in Beta mode. Enter your email in the form below to receive an invitation when we launch the final product.Sign up
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com and do the following:
write in the email subject line, "Intern Application [WRITE YOUR NAME],"
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;
provide a resume or CV, and
provide a writing sample.
Thank you for your interest in interning at the Law Center!
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 Cafes, workshops, and happy hours, in order to meet our staff members and make a personal connection.
About the Legal Fellowship:
Meeting the legal needs of local sustainable economies requires that lawyers blaze new career paths and establish transactional law practices aimed at providing services to cooperatives, community-owned enterprises, urban farms, local currencies, land trusts, and so on. In order to foster this growing community of lawyers, Sustainable Economies Law Center encourages lawyers of all experience levels who are intend to meet those legal needs by starting new law practices, legal nonprofits, or other projects to apply to become a Sustainable Economies Law Fellow if they would benefit from the support the fellowship offers. The purpose of the fellowship is to provide training, mentorship, and other resources to attorneys beginning new law practices, legal nonprofits, and other projects to serve the legal needs of local sustainable economies. The underlying goal of the program is to meet the legal needs of the growing sustainable economy movement.
Fellows will receive at least 25 hours of free classroom training (CLE credit may be available), will receive mentorship from staff and volunteer attorneys, and may take part in a variety of hands-on learning and networking opportunities offered at the Law Center. Legal Fellows, once accepted, may retain the title of Legal Fellow and participate actively in the program for as long as they find it useful and relevant to their work contributing to local, sustainable, resilient, sharing economies.
Why: We recognized the need for this fellowship program when we realized that the vast majority of new law grads are reluctant to create these new programs on their own. The ABA recently reported that 45% of law school graduates were unable to find legal work within one year after graduating. Many of these new graduates have chosen to take non-legal jobs, rather than to create programs serving the needs of local sustainable economies. This fellowship program will provide training and support to attorneys and new graduates, serving as a launch pad for the creation of new law practices, legal nonprofits, and other programs throughout the country.
Who: New law school graduates and experienced attorneys from the U.S. who are starting new law practices, legal nonprofits, or other programs to meet the legal needs of the growing sustainable economy movement are welcomed to apply.
When: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and a person may become a fellow at any time of the year. Once someone becomes a fellow, they may remain a fellow until the Law Center or the fellow decide to terminate the relationship. Fellows receive support and training through workshops and mentorships during their first year and are encouraged to give back in subsequent years to new fellows by hosting trainings, providing mentorship, and sharing information with each other.
Where: Classroom training will be provided at or near the Sustainable Economies Law Center's office in Oakland, and/or virtually. Bay Area Fellows will also be invited to attend our weekly Resilient Communities Legal Cafes in Berkeley and Oakland, in order to observe legal advice in action and to gain hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced attorneys.
How to Apply:
Fellows will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please send a resume and 1-2 page cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the cover letter, please tell us what motivates you to serve the needs of local sustainable economies, and also describe the law practice, legal nonprofit, or other project you are working to build. What would be the goals of the project or law practice? Who would you serve? What areas of law would it involve? Feel free to send links or attach articles or other writing that help us to understand your interests and goals. Please note that it may take us some time to process your application, we appreciate your patience while you wait to hear from us.
Every contribution makes a big difference. Thank you so much for helping SELC build strong communities, promote justice and sharing, and grow the movement for more just and resilient local economies.
If you ever have any questions about your contribution, please contact Chris Tittle at email@example.com. Thanks!Share Your Thoughts
It’s like a CSA for more resilient communities!
The Sustainable Economies Law Center is a people-powered organization sustained by generous and dedicated folk like you. Our new Community Membership is an invitation to formally join and grow the community of local economy advocates, and ensure our work represents your vision for healthy and inclusive communities.
In return, a small monthly gift or annual contribution will help sustain our work and make us a more resilient organization!
With a monthly pledge of $5 or more, you will:
- Sustain our capacity to:
- Offer direct and accessible legal services through the Resilient Communities Legal Cafe; and
- Empower communities with legal tools and knowledge through our community workshops and teach-ins.
- Receive our thanks, as well as:
- Acknowledgement as one of our indispensable community members on Our Supporters page
- Invitations to member-only happy hours and other networking events connecting the movers and shakers of the new economy;
- The knowledge that you are part of the exciting movement to create more just and resilient local economies;
With an annual gift of $500 or more, you will:
- Sustain our capacity to:
- Advocate for new laws that foster more just and resilient local economies;
- Share replicable and innovative models of community resilience through our eResource Libraries, Sustainable Economies Attorneys Network, and publications; and
- Empower the next generation of community lawyers through our living classroom, unique CLE courses, and the growing Legal Apprentice Movement!
- Receive our thanks, as well as:
- Discounts on all our events, including specialty MCLE courses taught by Janelle Orsi;
- Invitation to special Sustainer events and dinners;
- Acknowledgment on our homepage as an indispensable supporter of our work;
- And that warm feeling of enabling the movement to create truly sustainable and healthy communities
Just as we work to foster economic structures rooted in reciprocity and cooperation, we want to enable a reciprocal relationship with you – the people we work with!
Tell us what you’d like to see as part of the Sustainable Economies Law Center Community! Send your thoughts, suggestions, and questions to Chris [at] theselc.org
Why support the Sustainable Economies Law Center?
We are Committed to Spending Dollars Mindfully
Sustainable Economies Law Center has a reputation for accomplishing a great deal with very little funding, and we are mindful of how we spend our dollars — but we do need your help! Your contribution helps us cover the costs of our staff’s modest wages, travel to the communities we serve, offer a shared workspace for our interns and volunteers, and organize workshops and clinics for communities. Even a small contribution is greatly appreciated.
Looking to sponsor someone's run for our #WorkersRunOakland at the Oakland Running Festival campaign? Please find your favorite run-raising team member here.
Want to Take your Support to the Next Level?
Consider Becoming a Community Member or Sustainer!
Individuals who are inspired to make a contribution of $500 or more on an annual basis will become part of our Sustainer Circle, which comes with invitations to special Sustainer happy hours and networking events, free or discounted admission to our workshops, visible acknowledgment on our website, and gratitude galore!