A National Legal Landscape to Support Worker Cooperatives
Our mission is to cultivate a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. We provide essential legal tools - education, research, advice, and advocacy - so communities everywhere can develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs, and other vital aspects of a thriving community. The Law Center focuses on worker cooperatives and other democratically-governed enterprises because they provide pathways out of poverty, economic stability for working families, and wealth generation for thriving, resilient communities.
During our years of supporting movements toward democratic, employee ownership, there has been an exponential growth of community-focused entrepreneurs launching cooperatives and existing business owners seeking to sell to their employees. Both groups face a glaring gap: competent legal expertise and legal resources critical to entrepreneurs as they transition to worker ownership. In the Fall of 2018, the Law Center began on an ambitious path to addresses these gaps through funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Through a multi-pronged approach of seven integrated projects, we are beginning to address the gap in legal expertise and legal resources for a national transition towards democratic employee ownership. These projects described below will be shaped and evolve based on the input from stakeholders across the country. However, even as these projects adapt to the needs of our communities, we thought you should know about the initial concepts.
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Community Education Video Series
Our 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. Ricardo 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. By the end of the funding cycle, this video series will be used by 100 cooperative attorneys, entrepreneurs, and CBOs and published on 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 this project. 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 the funding cycle it will included a detailed analysis of cooperative formation options and sample documents for all 50 states.
National Cooperative Law Fellowship
Our national legal incubator for cooperative attorneys, the National Cooperative Law Fellowship, will support a national system for attorneys learning cooperative law and providing legal services to low-income communities and communities of color.
A National Cooperative Law Fellowship will provide incubation resources to Fellows including monthly calls where Fellows present and ask questions to other attorneys in a confidential, safe space. Fellows will also attend two in-person convenings per Project Year featuring intensive training, networking, and mentorship. By the end of Year 2, the program will be designing a pilot system helping Fellows get hands-on experience in cooperative lawyering. By the end of the funding cycle, up to 15 new attorneys will be Fellows in the incubation program, and up to 15 attorneys in their first six months as Fellows will receive stipends.
Legal Practice Guide for Advising CA Cooperatives
Our California Practice Guide for Attorneys Focused on Worker Cooperatives, the first of its kind in the nation, will help to mainstream the practice of cooperative law and will be crafted for easy replication and adaptation in other states nationwide. A comprehensive Legal Practice Guide for Advising California Cooperatives will provide fully developed, step-by-step procedures for attorneys advising cooperative clients, including tips and tactics, strategic options, and lists of what to consider and how to proceed when advising employee owned enterprises.
Online Training Program for Cooperative Attorneys
Our Intensive Online Training Program for Cooperative Attorneys will empower attorneys to specialize in serving democratic, employee-owned businesses and deepen their legal expertise via an anytime, on-demand, massive online open course. An Online Training Program for Cooperative Attorneys will be developed with materials created and refined through the Fellowship’s intensive in-person trainings and other resources. By the end of Year 3, this training program will be online and tested by at least 30 attorneys.
Cooperative Professionals Guild
The national association of worker cooperative attorneys, the Cooperative Professionals Guild, will convene cooperative attorneys and accountants in a peer support network with ongoing learning opportunities.
An expanded Cooperative Professionals Guild, operating as a project of Sustainable Economies Law Center, will provide peer support, ongoing training, and networking opportunities. By the end of Year 3 at least 50 attorneys who specialize in providing legal and technical assistance to worker-owned enterprises will be participating in the Guild which will coordinate at least one national conference for cooperative attorneys and accountants each year of the project.
Law for Economic Democracy Network
Our integrated online technology platform, the Law for Economic Democracy Network (formerly known as NextLegal.org), will provide an online social network for attorneys learning cooperative law, a space for training, mentorship, and networking, and an entry to the broader cooperative law community. This online community will provide legal professionals a place to learn, share, and support each other in providing high-quality legal services to cooperatives of all kinds. By the end of Year 3, NextLegal.org will have increased its membership by 200+ legal professionals.
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We're no longer accepting applications for Spring 2021 Please check back in the Fall for more information.
In 2013, we created a Legal Fellowship Program and provided fellowships to 5 new attorneys. As of 2019, the program has grown to 27 attorneys. Click here to read about our current Fellows.
Purpose and Description of the Fellowship
The fellowship provides training, mentorship, and other resources to attorneys beginning new law practices, legal organizations, and other projects serving the legal needs of local sustainable economies. The goal of the program is to meet the legal needs of the growing sustainable economy movement.
Meeting those needs requires that lawyers blaze new career paths and establish transactional law practices aimed at providing services to worker cooperatives, housing cooperatives, land trusts, and other democratically-governed organizations. In order to foster this growing community of lawyers, the Law Center invites lawyers of all experience levels to apply to become a Sustainable Economies Legal Fellow, if they 1) intend to meet those legal needs by starting a new law practice, or launching a legal organization or other project that will serve the legal needs of democratically-governed organizations, and 2) would benefit from the support the fellowship offers.
Sustainable Economies Legal Fellows begin the program as a cohort, either in April or September of each year.
After two years, Fellows “graduate” to Senior Fellow. Senior Fellows are expected to pay it forward by taking an active role in the program, such as through mentoring New Fellows and/or presenting Continuing Legal Education materials, webinars and/or workshops.
Senior Fellows may remain in the program for as long as their law practice, legal organization, or project continues to align with the program goals.
Benefits of the Program
Sustainable Economies Legal Fellows receive training, mentorship, and other resources through our Monthly Fellows Calls and two annual, multi-day, in-person convenings in the Spring (May/June); and the Fall (Sept/Oct).
The Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Legal Fellowship is an unpaid fellowship. However, we do provide reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses for the two multi-day Fellows Convenings on a need-basis, as our funding permits. 1st and 2nd year Fellows will be given priority for expense reimbursements.
Cohorts starting in 2020 and 2021, may also be eligible to apply for funding to work with a worker cooperative client that that is not financially able to pay the Fellow's legal fees for the services the Fellow provides and furthers the Fellow’s learning and knowledge of cooperative legal practice.
Applications are accepted during the following cycles:
Winter Cycle: Closed
Summer Cycle: Check back for further information
Note: Applicants starting a law practice, legal organization, or other project that directly serves worker cooperatives will be given priority consideration for the 2020 and 2021 cohorts.
We are pleased to introduce our Legal Fellows, as part of the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Legal Fellowship Program. Fellows receive extensive training, mentorship, resources, and support from our Center as they grow law practices focused on meeting the legal needs of local sustainable economies. As part of an ongoing commitment after the first year of the fellowship, Fellows agree to provide mentorship, training, and support to newer fellows who join the Center's community.
Encouraging cooperative growth across Appalachia in order to create a more equitable relationship between work and the individual
Adam grew up in Eastern Kentucky, and has lived in several Kentucky counties. While in law school, Adam got involved in organizing cooperatives all over the Louisville area. He worked closely with law school faculty on various legal and research projects to support coop growth. Recently, Adam helped organize a Start-Up Weekend competition that supported new businesses, including several budding cooperatives. Now that Adam has gained his law license in both West Virginia and Kentucky this year, he looks forward to supporting businesses that are truly attune to their community’s needs. He is especially interested in supporting new cooperative businesses in rural areas. Adam earned his J.D. from University of Louisville in 2020, and his B.A. in English from Centre College in 2017. Adam lives in Kentucky with his wife and two cats. In his free time, Adam likes to read and tend his numerous house plants.
Helping people of modest means in rural northern California protect their rights at work, fight predatory consumer lenders, and plan for the future
Cristina lives in rural coastal Northern California, where she provides legal services for average people. In her solo practice, she helps people of modest means protect and expand their rights in the workplace, defend against consumer debt, and plan in order to protect their assets for the next generation. At the local court’s Self-Help Center, she helps litigants represent themselves, primarily in family law, small claims, and restraining order cases. She also represents the California Low-Income Consumer Coalition in proceedings at the California Public Utility Commission.
Cristina began advocating for workers and consumers as a paralegal for a rural solo practitioner in Pennsylvania, then in the Bay Area as a law clerk at Centro Legal de la Raza, California Rural Legal Assistance, WorkSafe, Legal Aid at Work, and the Consumer Justice Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center. She graduated from Berkeley Law after two decades as an educator, teaching college English and high school ESL, English, and Spanish. She received a B.A. from Yale College and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stony Brook University. She has served on a school board, helped found a community garden, and led a shade tree commission that planted a lot of community trees.
Public interest attorney committed to community economic empowerment through the development of worker, housing, and real estate cooperatives in greater Los Angeles
D believes in community lawyering models that recognize the importance of leadership by communities who are organizing to build collective power. Coming from an organizing background, they are passionate about developing worker-centered cooperatives and community land trusts with and for BIPOC communities, queer and trans people, formerly incarcerated individuals, and individuals with disabilities. They are a community economic development attorney at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, where they provide transactional legal services to small businesses and community-based nonprofits. Prior to law school, they worked for many years in nonprofit operations and administration, including at the LGBTQ Center Long Beach. D holds a JD from Loyola Marymount University with a concentration in corporate law and BA from the University of California Berkeley in Political Science and Environmental Public Policy.
Working artist and attorney furthering the transformation of the arts into a more equitable and sustainable field by supporting artists, cultural workers, and arts organizations to re-imagine and value-align structures of arts production and support
Hope Mohr works at the intersection of art and social change. She is a working artist as well as an attorney licensed in California. Mohr has woven art and activism for decades as a choreographer, curator, and writer. In 2008, after dancing professionally for many years, she founded the nonprofit Hope Mohr Dance. She is also the founder and co-director of The Bridge Project, which creates and supports equity-driven live art that builds community and centers artists as agents of change. In 2020, she co-stewarded The Bridge Project's transition to an equity-driven model of distributed leadership.
As a lawyer, Mohr supports artists and arts organizations to develop value-aligned models and agreements. With 15 years of experience founding and running a 501c3 that supports a broad network of artists, Mohr understands both the limitations and the possibilities of the nonprofit model, as well as the work involved in moving from hierarchy to collective leadership. She teaches grantwriting to artists and is experienced in navigating the arts funding landscape, having secured and managed foundation and government grants for many years.
As an activist, Mohr has worked for such organizations as AmeriCorps, Earthjustice, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. As an artist, she has led community-based performance projects with breast cancer survivors and military veterans. Passionate about pursuing both community organizing and dance, Mohr earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Columbia Human Rights Fellow. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Latin American Studies. She is on the stewardship team of the Non Profit Democracy Network and on the Board of Southern Exposure. Her book, Shifting Cultural Power: Case Studies and Questions in Performance, is forthcoming from the National Center for Choreography. Contact Hope at movementlaw.net.
Supporting the promotion of real estate ownership from one generation to the next
Jason is passionate about promoting real estate ownership and sustainable economic development in Mississippi. His practice includes all things real estate: estate planning, land partitions, commercial and residential closings; title confirmation and insurance. He uses his knowledge of the law to facilitate transfer of real estate from one generation to the next, increase the marketability of title, and help clients figure out how to collectively manage land with multiple owners. He strives to promote the retention of black-owned land as a way to close the racial wealth gap. Jason is ready to educate, serve, and assist clients in all of their real estate needs.
Jiyoung Carolyn Park
Facilitating community-led creation of solidarity economy enterprises in California for a sustainable and equitable present and future
Jiyoung’s law practice has been primarily in labor and civil litigation. While she still litigates, she is focused on building the sustainable and equitable future we need by supporting community-led efforts to create worker-owned cooperatives and community land trusts.
Jiyoung is lifelong activist, who has fought for justice on behalf of workers, immigrants, and protesters. She created a jail support project in Los Angeles at the height of the protests following the murder of George Floyd. Jiyoung is currently organizing to create a public bank in Los Angeles. She serves as a Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Governing Board Member, an Executive Board Member in Democratic State Central Committee, and a Member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee. We have witnessed our economic and social systems fail us – that is why she is committed to shifting the paradigm to a solidarity economy.
Jiyoung lives and practices in Los Angeles, which is located on the traditional lands of the Tongva, Kizh and Chumash peoples. She is a graduate of Loyola Law School and Tulane University.
Empowering individuals and businesses to achieve economic independence and self-sustainability through entrepreneurship
Martina is the founder of Martina Watson Law-- a virtual law practice focused on non-profit, small business, and intellectual property law. Martina thrives off of the belief that when people of color receive empowerment through education and resources, they can successfully obtain economic self-sustainability and independence through entrepreneurship. As an attorney, it is her goal to help minimize systemic inequalities that affect financial growth and sustainability by offering support to businesses and individuals wishing to succeed as entrepreneurs.
During law school, Martina interned at several public interest organizations, ranging from policy organizations to the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender. While she has a passion for criminal justice reform and dismantling oppressive systems that lead to mass incarceration, she has found purpose in transactional work as a way to tackle economic structures that lead to systemic disenfranchisement. As a clinical student in the inaugural New York Law School Non-Profit and Small Business Clinic, she began to foster her passion for assisting new business owners with achieving their business goals. There, Martina worked to negotiate and finalize the first franchised worker-owned cooperative in the country. Before launching her practice, Martina also clerked in the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Over the next few years, Martina’s goal is to present innovative ways for clients to achieve economic independence and self-sustainability, such as cooperative development and franchise establishment.
Martina currently lives in Dayton, OH. She is a proud graduate of an HBCU and obtained her B.A. in Psychology from Winston-Salem State University and her J.D. from New York Law School. She loves traveling and trying new plant-based recipes.
Michael S. Russell
Community lawyer and arts advocate working with his clients to find a new way
Michael S. Russell works as a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (LASC) where he represents community groups, nonprofits, and cooperatives as part of Legal Aid’s Community Engagement Practice Group. He strives to use community lawyering principles to support low-income people organizing to build collective power, wealth, and community in the solidarity economy. And he is very excited about similar work happening throughout Ohio.
Mike has worked for legal aid organizations most of his career. He started at Alaska Legal Services in Anchorage, AK before joining Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in El Paso, TX, where he worked for six years. He moved to Northeast Ohio with his partner and their two kids in 2015.
Mike is a graduate of UC Hastings College of the Law and the Gallatin School at New York University. He likes records and misses the Chihuahuan desert.
Decoding laws and designing new legal tools and legal frameworks at intersections with communities for fair ownership and benefit-sharing
Pacyinz’ work as a lifelong social justice professional has spanned several sectors and places. At this point of her career, she is an intersectional expert always learning new things and seeking to establish a new practice as a coop attorney. She comes from the perspectives of a French-born, Minnesotan-grown, Hmong/Asian/Southeast Asian American legal professional and poet. She has worked as a legal aid housing staff attorney, an Asian women’s shelter co-founder and executive director, a state agency fair housing and affordable housing policy staff, a family foundation grantmaking team member, a managing director for an environmental public law firm, an in-house counsel for a community-based health clinic, an executive director for a pro bono network focusing on global public interest intellectual property, a French tutor for kids, a poet, and a consultant. She has worked with poor people, refugees, immigrants, battered women, black neighborhoods, Native American reservations, rural farmers, medical professionals, legal professionals, international scientists, Inuit entrepreneurs, Caribbean entrepreneurs, elementary kids, cooperative stakeholders and their communities. As this point of her career, she has many lenses and many tools to problem-solve almost anything.
As an emerging coop attorney, she is diving hands-on into the coop sector from various lenses. She is actively engaged with/gently nudging the DC Coop Stakeholders’ Network’s Policy Committee in its first foray into publicly testifying at DC’s budget hearings to put cooperatives on the table as resilient community development models for post-pandemic recovery. She is also exploring becoming a worker-owner legal counsel and/or legal coop member at an emerging DC-based digital labor platform for self-employed and freelancers. She plans to practice coop law in CA, MN and DC where she is barred/has a pending admission application, has community ties, and would love to be able to contribute to intersectional and cross-community racial and economic equity and solidarity.
Driver of democratic process and regenerative agriculture
Raye Winch lives and works on the occupied lands of the O’odham and Hohokam peoples (Tucson, AZ). They work for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, where they focus on increasing democratic leadership and aligning values and practice. Raye is a member of the Tucson Cooperative Network (TCN), an organization that supports the development of worker owned cooperatives. They are passionate about regenerative food production, soil health, composting, and aligning progressive values with daily practice.
Raye is co-founder of Amplifying Voices: People Sparking Change, a project that uses interviews and photography to amplifying the voices of activists and artists as part of a larger mission of advancing positive social change.
Instructing the next generation of attorneys in client-centered, cross-cultural, access-to-justice, and movement-based lawyering
Shefali Milczarek-Desai (@Shefalimdesai) is Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.
She instructs the next generation of attorneys in client-centered and cross-cultural lawyering through representation of low-wage immigrant and migrant workers throughout Arizona’s borderlands. Under her supervision, law students have worked on cases resulting in published decisions in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Arizona District Court upholding the rights of asylum seekers and immigrant workers.
Shefali's clinical and online coursework reflects collaborations with Harvard Law School’s Labor and WorkLife Program, Northern Arizona University’s Center for Health Equity Research’s Immigrant Research, Practice and Policy Program, the Mexican Consulate, and the Tucson Immigrant Workers’ Cooperative Network. She regularly speaks and presents on issues affecting immigrants including for the American Public Health Association, the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Women Lawyer’s Association, and the College of Law.
She also writes at the intersection of critical race and feminist theory and employment and immigration law. Her current research focuses on how paid sick time laws and policies influence the legal rights and well-being of immigrant workers, and how migrant workers can reclaim their labor through worker-owned cooperatives. Her work has appeared in The Conversation, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and the UCLA Women’s Law Journal, among others.
Prior to teaching, Shefali assisted in litigating Flores v. Arizona, a U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the rights of English Language Learners in Arizona public schools, practiced at the DeConcini McDonald law firm where she was elected shareholder, and clerked for Vice-Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor at the Arizona Supreme Court. She is a Rhodes Scholarship Finalist, a Notre Dame Law School Feminist Jurisprudence award winner, and has published numerous articles and essays as well as a book manuscript selected as a finalist in an international competition. Her favorite pastimes include hiking in mountains, preparing Indian food, and reading to her sons.
Creating cooperative structures to allow people to exercise greater control over their own economic circumstances
Thomas Beckett has for much of his professional career worked as lawyer serving the needs of cooperatives, community nonprofits, and other small and startup businesses. He cofounded and is currently Executive Director of Carolina Common Enterprise, a cooperative development center serving North Carolina. In this role he provides business & legal guidance to cooperatives throughout North Carolina and the South. Beckett has completed and is certified by the CooperationWorks! Art & Science of Cooperative Development training program. He co-founded and serves on the steering committee of the Cooperative Professionals Guild. Beckett is a frequent presenter on legal and business issues affecting new cooperatives. He has taught Business Law at Warren Wilson College and is certified to present the FastTrac TechVenture program, the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurial training curriculum. He has significant experience working with agriculture enterprises in the region, worker cooperatives, housing co-ops, and consumer grocery cooperatives, as well as any number of innovative cooperative business structures that have arisen in the new economy. He is currently on the Board of Directors of Shared Capital Cooperative Development Fund and a community representative on the board of the Weaver Community Housing Association, a shared equity affordable housing cooperative. Beckett previously served on the Boards of CooperationWorks, the Center for Participatory Change and the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP). He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and earned his law degree and later an MBA at the University of North Carolina.
Alexandra (Alix) Devendra
Heart-centered lawyer serving purpose-driven businesses who want to bring consciousness to how they structure their relationships, address conflict, and navigate transitions
Alix is the owner of Aligned Law, a Portland-based law firm that provides legal counsel to purpose-driven organizations. Alix sees her role as a bridge builder, connecting the old world we are leaving behind with the new paradigm that is now emerging.
Before becoming a lawyer, Alix worked in a variety of sectors ranging from luxury goods to nonprofits, and in all of them she found the organizations to be dysfunctional. After law school she practiced corporate employment law, helping companies navigate the complex web of laws and regulations—many of which were written for a world that no longer exists. This experience led her to conclude that the way we work is fundamentally broken and that the legal system is part of the problem.
These insights caused Alix to step away from law practice for a few years to learn more about organizational development, systems design, and to do personal growth work—spurred in large part by her transition to motherhood. After learning about several of the interrelated movements emerging in this space—such as B Corps, encode.org, Presencing Institute, ResponsiveOrg, Teal and Zebras Unite—she concluded that she could best serve this paradigm shift by returning to law practice and helping these groups structure new ways of being in relationship with each other and the earth.
Although located in Portland, Alix is licensed in California, Oregon and Washington and enjoys collaborating virtually both with clients and co-counsel. Alix graduated first in her class from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and holds an undergraduate degree in French from Pomona College.
Civil Rights and public interest attorney and advocate empowering clients in Oregon to build equity and write their own stories.
Jonathan is an attorney with a passion for Civil Rights, community organizing and cooperative enterprise. He is returning to the practice of law after many years exploring alternative pathways to social change. Jonathan first cut his teeth as a plaintiff's employment lawyer with Dolan Law Group, specializing in racial discrimination and sexual harassment litigation. He then shifted gears to co-found and serve as the Executive Director of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, a community-based nonprofit focused on transportation equity, inclusionary housing and climate justice in low-income communities of color in the Portland metro region. During this time, he was appointed a member and served as Vice Chair of the Oregon Environmental Justice Task Force, and oversaw clinical legal work as an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark Law School and Willamette University School of Law.
Jon served brief stints as the Civil Rights Administrator for Multnomah County and the Director of Operations for the August Wilson Red Door Project, a nonprofit theatre company focused on changing the racial ecology of Portland through the arts, followed by a year in the Bay Area as a consultant for Street Level Advisors, developing expertise around housing policy and limited equity housing cooperatives, leading to this fellowship opportunity. A graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School and the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan feels blessed to find a new political home with SELC and is excited to launch a new law and policy venture to promote housing co-ops and other strategic action for clients invested in creating a cooperative economy in Oregon.
Working to support people and social enterprises that strengthen communities and cultivate a healthy environment.
Nico Lustig is an attorney at the mission-based Vermont law firm Dunkiel Saunders Elliott Raubvogel and Hand, PLLC. Nico entered the legal profession with a deeply rooted background in cooperative management, food business consulting, and organic agriculture. Nico helps many businesses, mainly farmers, food entrepreneurs, and community-based enterprises, as they move through the life cycle of business creation, growth, and succession. Nico’s legal practice includes a special focus on supporting businesses as they navigate the Food and Drug Administration, U.S.D.A, Federal Trade Commission, and local regulatory landscapes. She also provides legal services for community land trusts, renewable energy developers, and producers of green consumer goods. Nico has a J.D. and Master’s in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. She earned a BA in business and food systems studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Nico serves on the Board of the Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community; and as a Trustee of the nonprofit food hub, Red Tomato, an organization that brings domestic fair trade fruits and vegetables from local farms to market.
Shifting the economic paradigm in Western Massachusetts with worker owned cooperatives and other solidarity economy enterprises
For over two decades, Susan litigated in the bankruptcy and housing courts to save her clients’ homes and rebuild their financial lives. Even though she was able to achieve good results for her clients, it did not alter the underlying economic dynamics wreaking havoc on their lives. In late 2019 she left litigation to transition into a transactional practice to facilitate a new egalitarian economic paradigm.
Susan hopes to facilitate the growth of solidarity economy enterprises in the Pioneer Valley by guiding the development of new worker-owned cooperatives and conversion of existing businesses, and through the creation of community land trusts. Susan is also involved in other community-building efforts including local COVID-19 mutual aid networking, organizing against natural gas pipeline expansion in her town, and supporting the creation of a Massachusetts public bank.
Susan lives in Agawam with her dog, Lucy. She is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and the University of Michigan.
Fellows Since 2019
Fatimeh D. Pahlavan
I strive to make the legal profession more transparent and to empower entrepreneurs through education
Fatimeh thrives on helping people self-actualize and live in authentic pursuit of their values. She views entrepreneurism as the ultimate vehicle for personal growth. This is why she founded Legal Intelligence to Entrepreneurs LLC (LITE), and why she devotes her work to supporting others on the entrepreneurial path. LITE is a law firm for impact-oriented entrepreneurs. Part legal practice and part educational platform, LITE offers one-on-one legal counsel as well as legal education workshops.
At the granular level, LITE is focused on supporting founders who are currently underrepresented in the entrepreneurial landscape; in particular, creatives, other-abled, womxn, and founders of color. Yet the ultimate goal of LITE is to promote mission-driven entrepreneurism at the community-level – both directly, by providing one-on-one legal support, and indirectly, by demystifying the law as it applies to entrepreneurism in hopes of encouraging more people to participate in this market.
In furtherance of these goals, LITE strives to keeps its services accessible. This means predictable, up-front pricing for representation (as opposed to the billable hour). Accessibility was also the impetus for the development of LITE’s legal workshop series. This series provides entrepreneurs with oversight and direct guidance as they perform their own legal work. The focus is education rather than representation, so the workshops are low-cost. And because entrepreneurs work under the supervision of an attorney, they are able to ask questions, make informed decisions, and have greater ownership over their legal tools. Link to LITE website: http://litecounsel.com/
Public interest attorney empowering her clients to change the world
Taier Perlman, Esq., is an evolving earthling committed to elevating the conditions of the status quo. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School (located in her hometown), Taier focused her studies on dispute resolution and legal counseling, working with diverse NYC-based start-ups. In an unconventional post-bar exam trip, she burst her big-city-centrism working on a biodiverse organic farm, where she developed a deep appreciation for the agrarian lifestyle. After litigating cases in New York City courts, she moved to Albany to pick up the reins of the Rural Law Initiative, where she legally supports entrepreneurs, businesses, and farmers in upstate New York, and advocates for greater access-to-justice in rural communities. Taier enjoys meditating, yoga, hiking, and working on her various art projects.
Using legal tools to promote economically viable and sustainable businesses
Anisha Murphy, a Twin Cities native, is the Director of Community Engagement at the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), a non-profit focusing on entrepreneurship and wealth creation in North Minneapolis. In her capacity Anisha leads organizational wide community engagement initiatives to increase the visibility of NEON to North Minneapolis residents and stakeholders. Currently, she is in the process of starting a legal/ business consulting firm to promote business development and growth.
Anisha is a passionate builder who is committed to serving marginalized communities. Currently, she is a part of the Minneapolis Global Shapers Hub, a network of young-change makers who are committed to making change to their local communities by using grassroots initiatives to change policies and racial disparities in Minnesota. Additionally, Anisha serves on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce and the African American Leadership Forum, and will be appointed to the Metropolitan Council’s Livable Communities Advisory Committee on May 8, 2019. Giving back and being a leader in her community has been a mission of Anisha’s since childhood. If she does not achieve anything else in life, she hopes to leave behind a positive legacy in helping others recognize they too are powerful beyond measure.
Anisha’s background includes a law degree and a master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University and study at Queen Mary University of London, England. In addition to working at NEON, Anisha is an Adjunct Professor at Hamline University and Mitchell Hamline Law School where she teaches transactional law and trial advocacy.
Supporting community wealth-building through creative fundraising, cooperatives, and structuring businesses for impact, inclusion, and growth
Brett is an attorney with a passion for community economic development, social enterprise, and neighborhood-level work. He supports a wide range of client companies, leveraging legal tools to support all of their goals from profit and growth, to impact and inclusion. Brett has substantial experience in securities laws, leading clients through the process of planning for and bringing investment into their companies. From designing and managing friends and family rounds or direct public offerings (DPOs), to negotiating venture investments and exit opportunities, Brett prides himself on his ability to work with clients to find the right investment tools and opportunities to position their business for success.
Brett is a partner at Gundzik Gundzik Heeger LLP, is a boutique, full-service, corporate and securities firm serving clients primarily in Southern California. Brett leads the firm's social enterprise and worker-owned cooperative efforts, and regularly presents and advises on legal matters for new and existing co-ops and social-impact minded businesses.
Brett lives in LA with his partner, their son, and their mostly good dog. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brown University.
Alexiomar D. Rodríguez-López
Furthering sustainable economic development in Puerto Rico by helping creative entrepreneurs, non-profits and small businesses
Alexiomar is the founder of Seed Law, LLC, a virtual law office that provides value-driven transactional services to further local sustainable economic development. His practice focuses on intellectual property and business law. He is committed to supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Puerto Rico through free and easy-to-use educational material.
Alexiomar is also a consultant for other economic development-driven businesses and non-profits in the Island, and an avid writer and blogger.
Before starting Seed, Alexiomar worked in one of Puerto Rico’s top law firms, interned at both federal and local courts, co-founded a legal startup and worked with a couple of boutique litigation and corporate law firms. He obtained both his J.D. (Magna Cum Laude, 2018) and B.A. in Economics (Magna Cum Laude, 2015) from the University of Puerto Rico. Alexiomar enjoys playing guitar, basketball and spending time with his family.
Reyna Ramolete Hayashi
Supporting Native Hawaiian stewardship over culturally significant ‘āina(land) and building resilient island economies in Hawai‘i
Reyna’s work as a community lawyer, organizer, and facilitator is guided by her ancestors, family, friends, and her kuleana to the home that raised her, Hawai‘i. She is the Aloha ‘Āina Project Manager at the Trust for Public Land’s Hawai‘i office where she protects and conserves culturally and historically significant land and supports Native Hawaiian land stewardship. In 2017 she co-founded Emergent Island Economies Collective, a consulting cooperative whose mission is to create new systems of exchange and relationships based on ancestral island values. EIEC stewards community-driven solutions that model the world we want to live in: creating sustainable and resilient island economies and growing community organizations and social enterprises that empower us to meet our collective needs.
At the Empire Justice Center she started the Wage Justice Project to empower workers to fight wage theft through organizing, popular education, impact litigation, and bottom-up policy reform. There she lead a coalition’s successful campaign to pass a "Ban the Box" ordinance and founded a worker center called P.O.W.E.R. As a Fair Housing Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i she settled impact housing discrimination cases resulting in statewide policy changes and training. She received her J.D. from Seattle University School of Law in 2011 where she was a Scholar for Justice and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of British Columbia.
Fellows Since 2018
Supporting neighborhood-based and community-lead social entrepreneurship, worker-ownership, democratic governance, and long-term affordable housing models in Ohio
Jacqueline Radebaugh is a housing and community economic development attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., where she provides transactional legal services to community-based initiatives. Jackie is committed to advancing racial equity and bringing about social and economic change through socially and environmentally responsible entrepreneurship, democratic co-ownership, and governance. She advocates on behalf of individuals of low- and moderate-income, women, people of color and other minority, neighborhood-based groups, to promote local sustainability, the sharing economy, and community development strategies that seek lasting, transformational benefits to the local communities.
Before making her way to Ohio, Jackie studied and practice law in a variety of places, advised dozens of Fortune 500 companies in Brazil, nonprofits in France, with detours thru Geneva, New York City, and Texas. In addition to her Brazilian law degree, Jackie earned master’s degrees in Sociology of Religions & Society and Public Law & Political Sciences from the University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, and an LLM in American Law with emphasis in business law from the University of Texas at Austin. Jackie grew up in Brazil, where her parents taught her entrepreneurship at an early age: at 6, Jackie often baked and sold cakes to help a local nonprofit to buy property, at 15 she made and sold candles to her high-school mates, at 17 she started selling her mom’s ginger candies at her choir to help pay for law school and continued doing so until her parents’ small business took off. She also learned a great deal about life and the human nature while working in restaurants as a woman, a person of color, and an immigrant. Those experiences have deeply shaped her life and work.
Permaculture Justice – The art of evolution by cocreating interbeing in perma-microcommunities
Valeria Gheorghiu is an environmental and civil rights attorney integrating restorative justice into the practice of law. She currently practices cooperative, environmental and civil rights law at her office in Kingston, New York, supporting the burgeoning resilient and regenerative local economy in upstate New York. Her more notable cases include representing the Ramapough Nation, Occupy New Paltz and advancing pagan rights in the Matter of Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, Inc. v. McCoy et al. As a multi-lingual contract attorney, Valeria co-founded United Contract Attorneys drawing from her prior work as a global justice organizer, and as a workers’ rights attorney at NGOs such as South Jersey Legal Services. Cooperative law is a natural progression for Valeria, integrating her background in organizing, workers's rights, environmental and business law. She is currently helping form a consumer cooperative, advising a farmers' cooperative and is giving lectures on cooperative law.
Holding permaculture, ecovillage, yoga and restorative justice certificates, Valeria graduated from Vermont Law School with a Master's in Environmental Law and Juris Doctor, and from the Evergreen State College with a B.A. in Liberal Arts, focusing on environmental studies and anthropology. She teaches yoga once a week, grows ginseng and runs monthly sustainable living themed community gatherings out of her home, a former schoolhouse and firehouse, in Kerhonkson, NY.
Supporting community-led affordable housing and social enterprise projects in the mountains of Western North Carolina
Justin Edge directs the Community Economic Development Program at Pisgah Legal Services in Asheville, North Carolina, providing transactional legal services and advocacy for projects designed to support sustainable economic opportunity in low-income communities. The program’s main objective is to create and preserve affordable housing and living wage jobs through providing technical assistance and education to nonprofits, cooperatives, and social enterprises working on community revitalization.
Justin is a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (MPA) and Maurer School of Law. His previous experience before coming to Pisgah Legal Services includes local government and nonprofit sector law and policy, including economic development, housing, and development finance matters, having worked in Chicago, southern Indiana, and most recently Hickory, North Carolina. For seven years before coming to work in community development, he was a riverboat captain on the Mississippi River and a construction worker in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Supportingand promoting sustainable economic development,communities, protecting legal rights of private employers and employees, workers-owned enterprises for a Solidarity Economy.
Loira Acosta has a Bachelor’s Degree in Labor Relations from the University of Puerto Rico (Magna Cum Laude, 1999). During those years, she was appointed Vice-President of the University of Puerto Rico Athletes’ Association. She also has a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law (Cum Laude, 2003). As a labor and employment attorney, Loira has worked with labor organizations, universities, public agencies, employers and employees. As part of her working experience, Loira has been Director of Labor Relations and also a Hearing Officer for the Puerto Rico Treasury Department. She has been part of the legal team for the Puerto Rico Volleyball Federation and the Puerto Rico Track and Field Federation. Since 2008, Loira has been a solo attorney and also founded a Human Resources company. Loira further served in the Board of Directors for the Puerto Rico Institute for People with Disabilities.
Loira is passionate about community service and as such, she became member of the non-profit organization Voz Activa. Loira offers legal counseling to communities as member of Voz Activa. Ricardo Diaz and Loira will become partners in Grupo Legal Acosta & Diaz, L3C (GLAD PR LAW), the first sustainable economies law firm in Puerto Rico to continue offering services in economic development, nonprofit sector law, organization of small and medium businesses especially to Puerto Rico residents in their recovery from the Hurricanes Irma and Maria disasters.
Cultivating the social field in Puerto Rico, promoting community and workers owned enterprises for a Solidarity Economy.
With a B.S. in Political Sciences (Magna Cum Laude) and a law degree both from the University of Puerto Rico, he was involved in the university students’ movement, being President of the Student Council for the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Law. He worked as legislative assistant with Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) legislator, David Noriega, at Puerto Rico state legislature. Ricardo has developed a private law practice specializing in transactional law, corporate law and construction law. He is knowledgeable on participatory legal structures, offering advice to both for profit and non profit organizations. He has served as Special Counsel for three chancellors of the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao and has taught commercial law at university level. At his classes, and on presentations and seminars, he promotes Solidarity Economy and its values and principles.
During his 25-year career, he has served as board member and legal counsel for non profits and as member of the Dioceses of Caguas’ Catholic Church Social Justice Committee. He is a founding member of the nonprofits CREARTE (a 16 y/o nonprofit serving children and youngsters through art, sports and education) and the Society for the Solidarity Economy (which has hosted seminars and workshops in Puerto Rico with theorists of the Solidarity Economy as Pablo Guerra, Luis Razeto and José M. Saiz Alvarez). He attended the Foundational Program offered by the Presencing Institute to deepen his knowledge and practice of Theory U. In addition to being vice-president of the nonprofit Voz Activa, he is a member of the agroecological collective Güakiá, Colectivo Agroecológico (an L3C).
Fellows Since 2017
Elliot H. Bridgewater
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Elliot is proud to have founded Bridgewater Law in the Fall of 2017 to support the cooperative community, small business and social entrepreneurs in Calgary, Edmonton, and throughout Alberta. Bridgewater Law derives its mission from the belief that the global economy is fundamentally changing and that more democratic, and sustainable, economic solutions are possible and necessary.
Elliot is passionate about supporting sustainable local businesses and providing timely and expert legal advice to cooperatives, small businesses, non-profits, and charities throughout Alberta. Elliot is a supporter of the cooperative community and commits his time to educating, and developing cooperative businesses in western Canada. He is also active in the outdoors community and commits time each year to teaching youth how to be active and engaged citizens through outdoor pursuits and wilderness challenges.
Fellows Since 2016
Providing technical assistance, knowledge of laws, and tools for community empowerment
Josephine Foo is project director and board member, ex-officio of Indian Country Grassroots Support. She served as attorney in the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, Office of the Chief Justice from August 2006 - November 2014. Josey was responsible for setting up the Judicial Branch grants program and the websites of the court system. She is project attorney for the Small Trust Land User Research and Assistance Project. From 2000-2006, she was Staff Attorney with DNA People's Legal Services in their Tuba City, Shiprock and Farmington offices, ending as Managing Attorney in Farmington. From 1990-1994, she was an Adjunct Professor at the City University of New York. An immigrant and at one time an undocumented alien, she is also a carpenter, artist and poet. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Brown University (MFA) and Vassar College.
Helping build community in Cincinnati through equitable commercial business structures.
Pat Feghali is an attorney living and working in beautiful Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a solo law practice that works mostly with small businesses on contracts and business formation, though she also takes cases in other types of law, including estate planning. Pat formerly worked at the Ohio Justice and Policy center, and holds a masters degree in urban planning. In an ideal world she would spend her days bringing more worker-owned and member-owned cooperatives to life in Cincinnati (which is why she is super excited to be a Fellow!) and riding bikes. In her spare time Pat likes to play in rock bands, tour buildings in various stages of disrepair/abandonment, plan community events, and watch Game of Thrones.
Kelsey Jae Nunez
Supporting sustainable economic development in Idaho with a compassionate focus on law and policy, community building, and education
Since college at the University of Idaho, Kelsey has been committed to social entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship, and civic engagement. She earned her JD cum laude and Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University in 2007 and then moved to the beautiful Boise, Idaho. Her career has taken many interesting turns, starting with big law and moving towards event planning and nonprofit management. In January 2016, she launched her solo practice. Kelsey Jae Nunez LLC is a boutique practice supporting social enterprise, cooperative culture and the sharing economy. Living in an incredible community of people who share a vision for a loving and resilient economy, Kelsey feels a strong call to serve and use her legal skills to help people create meaningful livelihoods. Relationship building and making connections motivate Kelsey, and she's incredibly grateful to be a part of Sustainable Economies Law Center's professional network.
Fellows Since 2015
Promoting cooperative initiatives through community transactional lawyering and community planning in New Jersey and New York
Elizabeth is the Founding Executive Director of the Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center (UCELC), a grassroots nonprofit with a mission to create and support cooperative enterprises within low and moderate income communities in order to promote local sustainability. She is also the Principal Attorney for The Law Office of Elizabeth L. Carter, a community development law firm representing investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, nonprofits, artists, and other creatives in business, real estate, and entertainment-related transactions.
Prior, Elizabeth was the Assistant Legislative Director & Special Counsel for the City of Newark's Department of Economic and Housing Development where she assisted in policy development and strategy; reviewed, drafted and facilitated redevelopment contracts, leases, grant agreements and corresponding legislation in the areas of municipal land use, redevelopment, and planning and zoning. Most notably, she was instrumental in the drafting and passage of the city's amended tax abatement ordinance (Oct., 2017), a progressive policy designed to assist sustainable development through tax benefits, including cooperative development; and the creation and management of the city-sponsored housing cooperative for low and moderate income artists. Lastly, Elizabeth is a Legal Fellow of the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Fellowship Program where she receives support for her role as Founding Executive Director of UCELC.
Studying and tackling Subchapter T in order to provide legal services for community-based economies in Boston
Lydia Edwards is a city councilor in Boston Massachusetts. Prior to her political career, Lydia worked served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Housing Stability working to prevent displacement in Boston.
Lydia also worked as a legal services attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services representing domestic workers and labor trafficking.She is graduate of American University Washington College of law and has and ha a Taxation LLM from Boston University.
Providing full-service legal assistance to social enterprises and small businesses in NYC
Sam Gray (J.D., Cardozo School of Law (2013), New York Bar) is a Managing Partner of Liszka & Gray, LLC (New York, NY), where he represents clients in a wide range of business transactions and commercial litigation. Of particular note, he has served as ongoing counsel to an established real estate group in New York City. In support of this project, he has negotiated and closed on numerous residential real estate sales and a $6 million commercial refinancing while managing regulatory filings and compliance with the NY Attorney General’s Office.
Additionally, Sam has represented and consulted with various co-working ventures, tech and creative entrepreneurs, cooperative businesses, non-profits, and a martial arts studio on matters as diverse as business formation, workplace democratization, drafting bylaws and operating agreements, commercial lease negotiation, IP licensing, SaaS agreements, and obtaining visas for creative professionals.
Sam is committed to supporting sustainable and socially responsible businesses in and around New York City. He is an elected member of the County Committee for the Brooklyn Democratic Party and has served as a founding member of the Board of the New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative. Sam spends his free time in the mountains and beaches outside the city, or practicing Brizillian Jiu Justu. And before each work day he tries to write and practice his drum rudiments.
Structuring transactions that value people and the environment in Southern California
Chris Cohen practices law with the Sustainable Law Group, P.C., the first California law firm to become a Certified B Corp and 1% For the Planet business member. Chris lives and works in Ojai, California, where he provides counsel to small businesses, nonprofits, farms and filmmakers committed to positive social and environmental change. He also focuses on estate planning for cabins located in National Forests. Chris graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, San Diego and with High Honors from Ventura College of Law. Prior to practicing law, Chris was a government relations professional at Scripps Institution of Oceanography for nearly 10 years. Chris serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Regenerative Agriculture in Ojai and the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama. He also volunteers on the Legal Advisory Committee for the Ojai Valley Defense Fund and the Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Committee for the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. For more on Chris, visit www.sustainable-lawyer.com.
Ann Marie Rubin
Public interest attorney supporting social justice work
Ann Marie holds her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School and her undergraduate degree in English and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Her work has included writing, teaching, art and media production, nonprofit leadership, as well as environmental litigation and advocacy. Ann Marie helped start Agrarian Trust, an award-winning, California-based nonprofit developing a community-owned farmland model to help keep land affordable, especially for minority and vulnerable populations. She also worked as deputy director for Greenhorns, an art-based activist group recruiting young farmers. As a law clerk, Ann Marie has worked with nonprofits in California, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., including the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, and Earthrise Law Center. Her work has helped shape policy and regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as thought leadership within nonprofit coalitions.
Ann Marie is also an artist and dancer. She is working on a comedy web-series and she dances at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn. Also passionate about garden and landscape design, and a former organic farm apprentice, Ann Marie has worked extensively with perennial and medical herbs, native plants and flowers, and permaculture practices. She is currently on a sabbatical and pursuing scholarship opportunities around law and social justice.
Legal services for working class cooperative economic development in Washington State
Peggy Wolf is founding Reparations Law (RL), a nonprofit legal services organization in Seattle, Washington. RL’s mission is to inspire and support people with detrimental economic barriers in our society to create their own stable, living wage jobs through worker-owned cooperative business development. The people RL is designed to serve include, but are not limited to, African-Americans, Native Americans, other people of color, women, youth, seniors, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, people who are or were formerly incarcerated, and immigrants.
Peggy received her JD from Seattle University School of Law in 2012 and was admitted to the Washington State bar in 2013. Her legal education included clinical and practicum experience serving clients threatened with foreclosure of their homes, clients with mental illness addressing their estate planning needs, and organizational clients starting nonprofit entities and applying for tax-exempt status.
Ready to lend a hand in setting up democratic enterprises in the Granite State and beyond
John C. Carroll is a graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law and admitted to the bar in New Hampshire. He is currently employed in Montreal, Canada at BCF LLP in its Business Immigration practice, but he also carries a strong passion for cooperatives as engines of economic growth and social development.
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor's Degree in History and a Minor in German, John moved to Bremen, Germany on a Fulbright Grant, residing and working there for four years. In 2009 he moved to the town of Higashikushira in Kagoshima, Japan, where he taught in the public schools there for two years.
John took up the study of law after his return to the U.S. specifically with the aim of getting involved in community development, which is reflected in his published note, Economic Democracy, Made in Germany: The Mietshäuser Syndikat Model as a Framework for Developing Democratic Enterprises, 42 Syracuse J. Int'l L. & Com. 193 (2014). Fluent in German and conversant in both Japanese and Spanish, John hopes to not only help foster new cooperative enterprises, but to contribute to the creation of cooperative networks within the U.S. and internationally.
Fellows Since 2014
Social engineering legal services for the commons in the Bay Area
Hasmik Geghamyan is a community lawyer committed to social and economic justice. Hasmik believes that a cross-functional model of activism, policy, organizing, and law can be effectively used to bring about transformative post-capitalist social and economic change. Hasmik balances her civil rights practice with transactional law focused on democratically-led social enterprises that include worker-owned cooperatives, small businesses, and nonprofits. Her law office's active vision is to be part of a long-term, thriving community rooted in resilience and empowerment. Hasmik Geghamyan is a community lawyer committed to social and economic justice. Hasmik
Hasmik is an Immigrant Armenian and lives in a cooperative house in Oakland. Hasmik has been organizing with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) since law school and is the current Far West Co-Vice President, a national officer of The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) of the NLG and a volunteer attorney for Resilient Communities Legal Cafe with the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Hasmik is also the Law Center's representative with Pathways2Resilience in Oakland, a multi-faceted re-entry program for the formerly incarcerated that incorporates permaculture, case management and restorative justice principles to reduce recidivism. Hasmik can be reached at [email protected].
Attorney and community developer supporting nonprofits and social enterprise in northern Michigan
Kate Redman provides practical, transparent, and human legal services to nonprofits and small business in northern Michigan through Commonplace Law. She also founded Commonplace, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit coworking space whose mission is to enliven healthy, collaborative, and creative organizations. Her areas of legal speciality include legal and tax structure, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, financing & crowdfunding, hybrid nonprofit/for profit entities, governance, contracts, collaboration, and mergers/sales. She is involved in efforts to promote and grow local investment and investment crowdfunding in Michigan.
Kate received a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and is a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. Before founding Commonplace, Kate clerked for Justice Michael F. Cavanagh of the Michigan Supreme Court and was a partner at Olson, Bzdok & Howard, PC, specializing in nonprofit, business, and local government law. She spends her free time geeking out on local investment and organizational development; and enjoying the many joys of northern Michigan -- no matter whether running, kayaking, biking, skiing, camping, eating, or just meandering along a beachy forest trail somewhere.
Affordable legal assistance for sustainable and just communities
Sara Stephens provides affordable legal services for tenants, cooperatives, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs. Sara Stephens is also a Housing and Cooperatives Attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, California. She co-directs the Center’s Housing Program, coordinating policy advocacy, education, and client support for more just and affordable cooperative housing models. In the Cooperatives Program, Sara leads the Center’s effort to create and implement a model city ordinance to incentivize worker cooperatives as an economic development strategy. She also coordinates Co-opLaw.org, a legal resource library for cooperatives, as well as Think Outside the Boss, a legal workshop for worker cooperative start-ups. Sara graduated from Berkeley Law and is admitted to practice law in California.For more on Sara, visit Law Office of Sara Stephens.
Supporting cooperatives and creative entrepreneurs in Sacramento, California
Cameron Rhudy is a Sacramento-based attorney serving small creative businesses, cooperatives, and social enterprises in California. She is passionate about strengthening her community through providing affordable legal services to artists and cooperative and community-based small businesses. Cameron is also a staff attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, California.
Previously, she practiced health law as a legislative attorney for the Office of Legislative Counsel, during which she drafted legislation and navigated federal and state laws relating to, among other things, California’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal), health and community care facilities, and various public social services programs. Cameron graduated cum laude from California Western School of Law in 2009.
Providing employment law and business advice to social enterprises and small businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area
Elizabeth Burnett is an employment law attorney in the Bay Area serving cooperatives, non-profits, social enterprises and community-based businesses. Her practice includes advising human resource professionals on California employment laws, drafting employment policies, preventing, investigating, mediating, arbitrating and litigating employee claims and other disputes, and developing training programs to prevent harassment and discrimination. Elizabeth is also Development Director of Sustainable Economies Law Center, focused on developing and diversifying the Center’s funding sources to further support community resilience and grow local sustainable economies. Elizabeth developed her commitment to building community resilience and local economies working in an urban food desert in Philadelphia transforming abandoned vacant lots into organic community food gardens. Upon returning to the East Bay in 2013, she became a volunteer attorney at the Center's Legal Cafes and opened a law practice offering affordable employment law advice and assistance to social enterprises who are operating in and growing the local, sustainable economy. A graduate of UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, Elizabeth has been practicing employment law in various settings for more than twenty years. She has worked at law firms, both large and small, as in-house counsel for a commercial start-up, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She loves to bike and hike, grow food and support community gardens, local farmers and cooperatives.
Fellows Since 2013
Sarah serves cooperatives and other small businesses that are starting up or raising capital, in Illinois and California.
Sarah Kaplan focuses on cooperatives and capital fund-raising. Her goal is to help local independent businesses, including worker co-ops, grow and thrive. She believes that the change we need can come from more businesses being worker-owned, and from communities shaping their own development through investing.
Sarah's clients include several Illinois food co-ops, as well as worker co-ops and other businesses. Before starting her own practice in 2012, Sarah was an Assistant Illinois Attorney General. Sarah graduated with high honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2010. Before law school, Sarah was a bike mechanic, bicycle delivery person, and year-round utility cyclist. After 12 years in Chicago and almost 3 years in the Bay Area, Sarah now lives in St. Louis, MO. For more information about Sarah visit http://www.sarahkaplanlaw.com.
Legal services for socially and environmentally friendly businesses, organizations, and individuals
Jill Jacobs practices real estate and business law for sharing real property, community businesses, social enterprises, cooperatives, and nonprofits.
Previously, Jill was a staff attorney at Senior Citizens Legal Services, a legal aid organization, and practiced Social Security law and workers’ compensation law. She has a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a JD with a Certificate of Environmental Law from Pace School of Law in New York, where she interned at the Land Use Law Center, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, and the Environmental Litigation Clinic. She has also worked as a domestic violence victims’ rights advocate, a substitute teacher for grades K-12, and a marketer for organic farms. Her past volunteering includes California Rural Legal Assistance, California FarmLink, and Save Our Shores.
Jill is grateful for her fellowship at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, where she volunteers, receives continuing legal education, and is part of a network of attorneys practicing law to advance the reality of beautiful dreams of how the world may be. For more information about Jill visit the Law Office of Jill Jacobs.
Protecting environments and building sustainable communities
Providing legal services for community-based rural economic development in Redding
Building just and sustainable food systems
Aside from his role as staff attorney at Sustainable Economies Law Center, Neil maintains a small legal practice dedicated to serving clients who are focused on cultivating justice, in all its variant forms, within our food system. He offers advice, research, and consulting services for organizations and enterprises that seek to create a more just food system. In 2013, Neil researched and authored several case studies on social justice in agriculture for inclusion in the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems’ farm apprenticeship curriculum. He also holds a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture for completing the same apprenticeship in 2012. Neil earned a B.A. in Economics and International Area Studies from UCLA, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law
- In memoriam, Liz Dahl-MacGregor, Practicing law to support the social economy and build the community in Ypsilanti, Michigan
- Rachel DiNardo, Attorney in Alaska and the Bay Area
- Sarah Seufer, Supporting sustainable economic growth in Western North Carolina