Clinic: Community Development - Skills

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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CLINIC – 6 credits (application required) Fall 2012 Taught by: Heather K. Way, Frances Leos Martinez, Eliza Platts-Mills The Community Development Clinic provides students with a unique opportunity to develop business law and problem solving skills while furthering economic development in low-income communities. Students represent nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and community groups to provide them with the legal and policy tools they need to succeed. The clinic also helps low-income families obtain clear title to their homes. Students will have the opportunity to represent their clients on a broad range of matters. The Clinic offers two tracts: (1) A Business Law Assistance Tract focused on providing transactional legal assistance to nonprofit organizations and small businesses; and (2) a Policy Development Tract focused on assisting community groups develop local and statewide policy solutions to urban community development issues. Typical legal matters that students work on in the Business Law Assistance Tract include: • Incorporating nonprofit corporations • Applying to the IRS for tax exempt status • Drafting and negotiating contracts • Providing legal advice to nonprofit board of directors and staff • Drafting lending and real estate documents • Assisting businesses with choice of entity decisions and entity formation Typical legal matters that students work on in the Policy Development Tract include: • Drafting state legislation and local ordinances on issues related to affordable housing • Assessing regulatory barriers to community development strategies • Analyzing legal tools and public policies to further development of sustainable and inclusive communities The Clinic is conducted in partnership with Texas Community Building with Attorney Resources (Texas C-BAR), a project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. The Clinic class will meet on Thursdays from 2:15-4:15 pm. Several of our classes will meet offsite from the Law School, including two community tours. The Clinic will also meet at the Law School on Tuesdays from 9:10-10 am for case discussions. There will be a mandatory orientation class on Friday, September 7, from 12-4:30 pm. The Clinic is a significant time commitment. Students are expected to devote an average of 17-20 hours a week to the Clinic (including class time). There are no prerequisites for this clinic, although a background in business law (such as corporate, real estate, or tax law), nonprofit or policy work will be useful. The Clinic classes emphasize the substantive law as well the larger social and theoretical context of community development work. Classes and out-of-class simulations also emphasize the development of practical lawyering skills such as interviewing and counseling clients. Enrollment is by application only. Students are encouraged to apply for the Clinic during early registration, as the clinic fills up quickly. The deadline for applications is March 28th. The deadline for early registration is March 30th. Students may request to be placed on a waiting list if space is unavailable during registration. Grading is on a pass/fail basis for this six-credit hour clinic. To apply for the clinic, please submit the clinic application and a resume to For additional information, please contact: Heather K. Way (, 512-232-1210).