Section Description Provided by Instructor
Two semester course
Credits: Fall: 7 credits; Spring: 4-6 credits (student option)
Grading: Students may choose to be graded CR/F or with a letter grade.
Enrollment: Eight students will be accepted.
Writing credit: Minor writing credit will be awarded. Major writing credit is available by arrangement with Professor.
Non-profits are an important sector of our economy and are growing in significance in countries throughout the world. Micro-enterprises are key players in grassroots economic development here and elsewhere. The goal of this clinic is to help students to become effective and ethical lawyers by providing high quality transactional representation to both kinds of organizations.
Our non-profit clients include a wide range of community groups and arts organizations, both start-ups and mature organizations. Recent clients include a major human rights organization, an organization formed to promote women?s health in the Philippines, the residents association of a Harlem housing project, a Harlem charter school, a graffiti art center and a group which provides housing for the homeless mentally ill.
The work for start-up non-profits generally involves counseling the client as to whether non-profit status is appropriate; helping the client to choose and create an appropriate entity for the conduct of the organization?s programs; developing a governance structure and drafting by-laws; applying for federal and local income tax exemptions; advising the organization on prospective corporate and tax obligations; drafting conflict of interest policies, and taking other legal steps necessary to the implementation of the organization?s programs.
Projects for mature non-profits have included: simplifying a multi-corporation enterprise, helping an organization choose a corporate and tax structure for a social enterprise, helping a successful local organization create a national structure, reviewing and drafting leases and contracts and advising on trademark and copyright issues Through a collaboration with a consulting group for non-profits, interested students work with organizations on issues like board development and strategic planning.
Our small business clients have run the gamut from family day care providers and chefs to jewelry designers, music teachers and inventors. Most come from or serve low income communities and all are unable to afford market rates for legal services. Typical projects include helping entrepreneurs to choose and form appropriate business structures, enter into leases and other contracts and comply with regulatory requirements.
Students offer seminars and workshops for non-profits and community entrepreneurs on corporate, tax and regulatory issues. They also work on law reform projects related to our clients ? over the past few years, the Clinic has led an effort to improve the way two state agencies exercise their regulatory role with respect to non-profits.
The early weeks in the clinic are designed to prepare students to see clients. Classes, out of class exercises, videotaped simulations and individual meetings with the professor are used to build students? substantive knowledge, skills, judgment and sensitivity to ethical issues. Once casework begins, simulations taper off and the actual cases become the subject of weekly supervision meetings and the ?text? for some of the classes. Throughout the semester, we focus on the lawyer?s role, especially the unique issues in representing organizations rather than individuals, and on helping students to develop a workable personal conception of that role.
You should plan on spending at least 21 hours per week on your Clinic work in the fall, at least 12 hours in the spring. You can expect to come out of the Clinic with a good grounding in the corporate and tax law relevant to our clients, a sense of how the law functions in practice, skills in interviewing, counseling, case planning and drafting, sensitivity to ethical issues, good work habits involving careful planning and the ability to reflect on and learn from your own experiences and an understanding of how lawyers can use their skills to benefit communities.
An additional aspect of the Clinic involves helping students to achieve personal goals related to becoming professionals, e.g., becoming more assertive, learning to collaborate with a partner, improving time-management, improving ability to work with people of different age, sex, race or economic status.
R 4 –5:50 p.m.
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (automatic), Major (only upon consultation)
Corporations and Tax are useful, although some students get more out of these courses after taking the Clinic or if they take the courses simultaneously with the Clinic.
Limited to law students who apply and are accepted during the Clinic application and registration period.