Services and Methods
The Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center (UCELC) implements a multi-disciplinary approach to creating and supporting cooperative enterprises that models after George Lopez' "rebellious lawyering" principal and includes community transactional lawyering, community planning, advocacy, and education.
Community Transactional Lawyering
UCELC's community transactional lawyering model aims to assist marginalized communities to become self-sufficient, self-reliant, and sustainable by incorporating education and participatory lawyering in its legal strategies.
Assisting cooperative enterprises involve a myriad of transactional legal work, including:
Entity Formation, Reorganization, & Dissolution (determining proper legal entity structures that will best advance cooperative enterprises)
Tax Law and Compliance (determining tax implications and liability of cooperative enterprises)
Intellectual Property Law (trademark and copyright services in furtherance of the work of cooperative enterprises )
Securities Law and Compliance (determining compliance and Federal SEC and State securities regulatory implications of cooperative offering plans, direct public offerings, crowd-funding, and other alternative investment activities)
Contracts and Agreements (drafting and reviewing contracts and agreements designed to promote cooperation)
Mediation (serving as a mediator in order to (1) avoid the divisiveness of litigation, and (2) collectively solve disputes and promote cooperation among members of cooperative enterprises)
Negotiation (facilitating transactions and exchanges through strategic discussion and compromise)
Land Use and Zoning (advising on land use and zoning implications of cooperative enterprises and advocating on behalf of cooperative enterprises at planning and zoning board hearings)
Redevelopment & Real Estate Transactions (drafting and reviewing deeds, real estate sale/lease contracts, and redevelopment agreements; and assisting with real estate closings and the redevelopment process on behalf of cooperative enterprises.
Community Planning, Mobilization & Advocacy
UCELC also engages in community planning in order to effectively support cooperative enterprises within marginalized communities.
Operating from Jane Jacob's view of urban planning, which recognizes the limitations of traditional urban planning methods, namely the exclusion of community members from the planning process, UCELC's community planning involves mobilizing community members and requires their participation in research, data collection, and drafting neighborhood community plans.
UCELC employs a number of community planning tools in its work, including:
Community Mobilization (leveraging social capital to facilitate financial exchanges within the community by educating and bringing community members together to form cooperative enterprises)
Participatory Research (utilizing research methods that require the input and realities of community members through qualitative research methods, including interviews, surveys, focus groups, and observations in order to provide specific community solutions)
Community Plans (developing plans that support cooperative enterprises through direct participation of cooperative enterprises and broader community)
Advocacy and Policy (engaging in limited lobbying services, and writing advocacy reports and policy white-papers supporting cooperative enterprises with direct contribution from clients)
UCELC provides education through:
Original Publications and Other Research Initiatives on cooperative enterprises and related content.
Educational Workshops that provide community members with an overview of cooperative enterprises through interactive presentations. cooperative enterprises and related content.
Cooperative Academy, a 13-week course carefully crafted and designed to educate and train participants on the history, principals, and modern trends of cooperative enterprises; cooperative business development and management; community planning methods; cooperative finance; cooperative legal and tax implications; and lastly, provide practical exercises designed to empower participants through hands-on experience and a final work product designed to jumpstart a cooperative enterprise unique to the participants' needs and reality.
Joint Fundraising & Reduced Fee-for-Service Model
UCELC employs a joint fundraising model where the organization partners with a start-up cooperative enterprise where the cooperative enterprise receives start-up capital and UCELC receives financing for its services.
In addition, UCELC operates on a a fee-for-service model where cooperative enterprises beyond the start-up phase are charged a reduced/discounted rate for services in order to sustain the organization through nonprofit enterprise.
With this model, UCELC is better able to sustain itself and serve the community without compromising its mission and maintaining its independence and accountability to the broader community.