The Community Economic Development Clinic (CEDC) provides free transactional legal services to small businesses, under-resourced entrepreneurs, community-based enterprises and nonprofit organizations. Under the supervision Assistant Professor Patience Crowder and Whiting Clinical Fellow Eric Franklin, student attorneys assist clients with business law and community development legal needs. The clinic is designed to support grassroots organizations and promote community-based neighborhood transformations such as revitalization, economic development and small business growth.
The 2011-2012 academic year, the first year that the CEDC represented live clients, was an unmitigated success. The inaugural class, a group of ten students, provided legal advice to a diverse group of clients and experienced a wide variety of legal issues. Clients included a boutique furniture designer and manufacturer, a microfinance lender, a video game retailer, a nonprofit organization promoting the role of youth advocacy in environmental justice, and a neighborhood association organized to maximize community participation in a pending redevelopment project. The list of projects completed for these clients included providing advice regarding legal entity formation, drafting form contracts, negotiating property rights, converting independent contractors to employees, and coordinating communication with a client’s city councilperson. The students also represented several organizations applying for tax-exempt status, including a nonprofit dedicated to Native American environmental justice rights and an organization dedicated to helping recent African immigrants transition to life in America.
The clinic is tremendously popular with both students and the Denver community and, as it begins its second year, the number of applications received during each enrollment period was more than 5 times the enrollment limit. In addition, there are approximately 30 potential clients on the waitlist. This year, the clinic faculty anticipates partnering with faculty members from both the Daniels College of Business and the Graduate School of Social Work and expects this group of student attorneys to continue and exceed the tremendous work of the clinic’s first year.