By Cameron Rhudy, Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) Staff Attorney
As a resilient economy lawyer, I focus on my community. I use legal tools to support the local production of food, energy, housing, and jobs in an effort to strengthen the local economy. And I help clients navigate the roadblocks local enterprises face when raising capital from the community. But just as my clients need a community of support to succeed, I as their lawyer also need a community of support - a community of other lawyers.Read more
We launched a network of legal and tax practitioners at law4economicdemocracy.org to cultivate a new landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment.
About the Community
The purpose of Law for Economic Democracy is to build a community of legal and tax practitioners working in support of economic democracy in their communities. Get the most from this network by:
Connecting with like-minded professionals on topics such as worker cooperatives, creative ways of taking land out of the speculative market, reducing barriers to raising community capital, and community-owned renewable energy, just to name a few.
Engaging in discussions, sharing your experiences, and asking questions when you run into challenges. Chances are, you are not the only one.
Swapping stories, resources, and ideas around our shared mission.
As the movement toward economic democracy grows, and more people form or convert to worker cooperatives, worker self-directed nonprofits, and other democratically-governed structures, the need for legal and tax assistance increases.
However, innovative models for creating more resilient and just communities require more than “business as usual.” These enterprises must navigate a variety of legal and tax gray areas, schools rarely teach about cooperatives, land trusts, and raising community capital, and the resources available after licensure or certification are similarly hard to find.
We frequently receive inquiries from people all over the United States and beyond who either 1) need legal or tax assistance but can’t find practitioners in their communities knowledgeable in cooperatives or democratically-governed entities, or 2) are practitioners having to look beyond their existing professional associations for support and community as they build their practices.
Through Law for Economic Democracy we hope to fill that gap and build a robust network of legal and tax practitioners that can share resources and best practices, connect and learn from each other, and support the greater movement toward economic democracy.
This is the right network for you if you believe that your purpose as a legal or tax practitioner is to generate economies, communities, and systems that:
Empower all people to participate democratically in the management of resources critical to their lives, including jobs, energy, housing, and natural resources,
Resist the destructive qualities of profit maximization, racism, and inequality, and
Nourish people and ecosystems in the long term.
We look forward to connecting with you on Law for Economic Democracy!
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"When Chris Tittle meets new people and the topic turns to his work, he sometimes fishes in his pockets and produces a business card that reads “Abraham Lincoln.” Below the 16th president’s name in smaller type the card reads, “Just kidding, but I hope to follow in some of his footsteps.”Read more
by David Bollier
news and perspectives on the commons
"Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy will be a landmark reference tool for law and the sharing economy for years to come. May it inspire more law students to enter this under-served field of law, and may it help catalyze changes in law and public policy to affirmatively support the new modes of sharing that are popping up all over..."Read more
Renowned author and activist David Bollier, well-known for his work on the commons, writes a raving review of Janelle Orsi's book Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy (ABA 2012). "...Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy will be a landmark reference tool for law and the sharing economy for years to come. May it inspire more law students to enter this under-served field of law, and may it help catalyze changes in law and public policy to affirmatively support the new modes of sharing that are popping up all over. The mismatch between the burgeoning sharing economy and legacy legal regimes urgently needs to be addressed." Read more.Read more
Below, find all the events related to SELC's Legal Profession in the New Economy program, including workshops, happy hours, and presentations produced by SELC that will push the Legal Profession towards the creation of a new, just, and generative economy! You can also view all of our events on SELC's events page.
Alternatively, view all of SELC's events in a Google calendar here.See all events
What are HALOs?
SELC created this Help-Another-Lawyer-Out (HALO) “currency” to generate a flow of learning, sharing, and mentorship within the legal profession, especially among legal professionals working to create sharing and resilient communities. Communities everywhere need lawyers specializing in cooperatives, community currencies, social enterprise, shared housing, and other projects that build local economic stability. There is so much to learn about these emerging practice areas! Any lawyer, legal professional, law student, or legal apprentice is welcome to download and print these HALOs. A HALO can then be "put into circulation" when one legal professional shares time and knowledge with another legal professional by, for example:
- Helping to brainstorm about a case, legal topic, or problem,
- Talking through an ethical issue,
- Sharing document templates,
- Allowing the learner to shadow and observe her/his work,
- Reviewing a document, such as a leases, 1023 forms, and bylaws, or
- Giving feedback on practice bar exam essays.
The legal professional who receives this help can then print a HALO, cut along the dotted line, fill out the names of the giver and recipient, give the HALO to the person who shared time and knowledge, and keep the reminder stub. A HALO has no defined value, nor does it create a contractual right to receive anything or an obligation to give anything. To the giver of a HALO, it is a reminder to "pay-it-forward" by sharing knowledge and teaching others. To the recipient of a HALO, it is, at the very least, a token of gratitude. However, the HALOs will grow in value if people are willing to accept them in situations where they might normally charge dollars. For example, SELC may soon accept HALOs as payment for webinars and workshops. We hope that other organizations will do the same. If SELC accepts HALOs, we could then turn around and "spend" them by asking a lawyer to review and edit content on our legal resource websites. If the HALOs begin to flow from one person to another, it's a sign that we are creating a rich learning current in the legal profession. Each HALO will always bear the names of the people who first put that HALO into circulation. It's a nice reminder that any person can create currency - meaning that any of us can set into motion a current of giving, sharing, and learning in our communities.
FAQ About HALOs
How do I print HALOs? Click here to print out a HALO. HALOs are intended to be double sided, so set your printer to duplex. We recommend that you use card stock. Alternatively, if you come to a SELC event, we often have printed HALOs on hand.
How much work should merit a HALO? It's hard to measure the value of the time and knowledge that people share. We recommend that you use 30 minutes as a rough guideline for giving a HALO. In other words, if someone spends at least 30 minutes of their time helping you, give them a HALO.
How can I receive HALOs? Tell your legal professional friends that you are part of a community of lawyers who are expanding their skills in order to serve the legal needs of resilient communities. Give them a link to this website, and let them know that you are happy to share your knowledge in exchange for HALOs. This will create a welcoming open door for your friends to come to you seeking assistance. You can also reach out to law students and apprentices to offer your assistance with their studies, or organize a workshop and accept HALOs as payment! Soon, SELC will be launching an online network of community resilience lawyers, and this will provide another forum in which to offer your assistance to other lawyers.
Printing HALOs seems inconvenient. Can we send them electronically? We suppose that you could send a HALO to someone via email, but there is something more personal about writing something by hand and sending it by mail. You can even add additional notes or drawings on the HALO to thank the recipient. Printing and writing on HALOs also feels more authentic. Other than our consciences, there's nothing to prevent people from forging HALOs or printing out. This is a trust based currency. Furthermore, the giver of a HALO will keep the stub to remind them to "pay-it-forward," and printed stubs will likely serve as a much better reminder than files saved on a computer.
How can I help SELC create a nicer design for the HALOs or give any other feedback? We know that the graphic design of HALOs is a a little ho-hum. Do you have an idea for a more charming or compelling design? Or do you have any other feedback on the HALOs? If so, please, email Janelle [at] theselc.org. Thank you!