Community Development Clinic

For Law Students

Students provide legal assistance to individuals and non-profit organizations seeking to improve the economic, cultural, social, educational, or environmental well-being of disadvantaged or underserved communities. Students provide legal advice or representation on matters such as entity formation (e.g., articles of incorporation, bylaws), tax exempt status, leases and contracts, public participation rights (e.g., public records and open meetings), licensing requirements, and zoning and land use.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT LAW CLINIC
LAW 665-006

Director
Nicole Self-Drake Díaz

Eligibility
Open to 2nd and 3rd year students.

Credit hours/duration
This is a full-year clinic and is offered for 4 total credits (2 credits for the fall semester & 2 for the spring).

Weekly classes
Seminar: 1 hour TBA

The Community Development Law Clinic is one of the Law School’s newer clinics and was created in 2005 to help improve the well-being of Alabama’s disadvantaged and underserved residents and communities — that is, to help develop healthy, livable communities for all of Alabama’s residents.

The Clinic has two primary goals, one educational and one public service. First, the Clinic seeks to train law students, through representation of clients, to be effective, highly-professional lawyers. In particular, the Clinic was created to provide law students with the opportunity to learn non-litigation, transactional legal skills that are not practiced in some of the Law School’s other law clinics. The Clinic’s second goal is to provide free legal assistance to individuals and non-profit organizations seeking to improve the economic, cultural, social, educational, and environmental conditions of underserved or disadvantaged communities in Alabama. This is a clinic that seeks to assist those in need not by providing them with direct legal representation, but by providing legal assistance to the service providers and groups that are serving these needy individuals or otherwise striving to improve the living conditions in Alabama’s communities.

Highlights of Community Development Clinic Activities

In just its four years of existence, the Community Development Clinic has provided free legal assistance to over 100 clients. Law students working on these cases have: developed some of the documents used to create a new subdivision of affordable homes; drafted the legal documents needed for a sports organization to expand recreational opportunities in a Black Belt county; written employment contracts and human resources policies for social services organizations; developed plans to condemn and improve abandoned housing; drafted a contract for an after-school program for needy children; reviewed marketing agreements for the distribution of rural folklife merchandise; drafted lease documents for a ranch for disadvantaged kids; and helped numerous nonprofit organizations incorporate and then apply for and obtain certification of their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Who Does The Community Development Clinic Represent?

The Clinic’s free legal assistance is available to individuals, nonprofit organizations, and governmental entities, whether new or established, seeking to improve the economic, cultural, social, educational, or environmental well-being of disadvantaged or underserved communities in Alabama. To date, the Clinic has not represented small businesses or other for-profit entities or entrepreneurs. In screening potential cases, the Clinic seeks to identify the problems that the disadvantaged community faces, how the proposed project, if successful, would advance the quality of life and long-term sustainability of the community, and how legal services might help the client or project succeed.

What Types of Work Would I Do in The Community Development Clinic?

Clinic students provide free legal advice and representation on a wide variety of matters, primarily transactional, including: entity formation (e.g., articles of incorporation, bylaws); tax exempt status (IRS 501(c)(3) applications); leases and contracts for goods and services; employment contracts and policies; zoning, affordable housing and land use matters; licensing and intellectual property requirements; and public participation rights (e.g., public records and open meetings). Clinic students have legal and ethical responsibility for their cases. Once assigned, the case is the responsibility of the student, but all students practice under the supervising attorney’s law license, meet on a regular basis with the supervisor to discuss the case, and are supervised at hearings by the Clinic attorneys.

What are the Community Development Clinic Credits and Workload?

The Clinic is open to both 2nd and 3rd year law students and is limited to 8 students. The course is a full-year clinic and awards 4 academic credits total (i.e., 2 credits for the fall coursework and 2 credits for the spring coursework). Students are expected to work an average of 7 hours per week in this clinic. The course includes both casework and a weekly classroom or seminar component. In the seminar, students learn the substantive and procedural laws related to community development client representation and discuss the practice skills and professional responsibility issues relevant to their cases. Once cases are assigned, the classroom part of the Clinic often involves “case round” presentations and discussions by the students of important facts and issues in their cases.

About Talitha Powers Bailey
Ms. Bailey directs the Capital Defense Law Clinic and the Community Development Clinic. Ms. Bailey graduated cum laude from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 1999. After graduation, she practiced law in Birmingham for eight years. Her areas of emphasis were criminal defense and appeals, with a special focus on capital litigation. For more information on the Clinic, contact Ms. Bailey at (205) 348-6845 or ndiaz@law.ua.edu.