Information for Prospective Students
The CEDC provides transactional legal assistance to nonprofits and community-based organizations, and social and creative enterprises in Detroit and throughout southeastern Michigan. Students engage in the supervised practice of law in a professional setting. The CEDC's goals are to provide first-rate legal services to enable our clients to transform their vision into reality, enhance the community, and contribute to the economic vitality of the region, while providing our students the opportunity to enhance their professional capabilities by doing actual "lawyering."
The CEDC is relevant to students interested in corporate, government, or public interest work. The clinic helps prepare students for work with organizational clients, as well as gives students an introduction to opportunities for transactional attorneys to serve the community, through pro bono, board service, and volunteer work.
The clinic can also satisfy the Capstone requirement for JD/MUP dual-degree students. Please contact the Urban Planning Program for additional information.
You will assume primary responsibility for all matters affecting your clients under close faculty supervision. You will prepare for your client work through an intensive seminar and weekly supervision meetings. The course has three principal components:
You will be responsible for interviewing and counseling clients; planning your matters; drafting legal documents, memos and correspondence; and managing relationships with your clients and others. You will identify the legal issues, research them, consider different alternatives, negotiate agreements, and implement client decisions. Each student team will normally work on several client matters throughout the semester. We try to accommodate, where possible, your particular areas of interest or expertise, but are bound to represent clients that have retained the clinic and feel a responsibility to consider the needs of clients that have requested our assistance. Students will learn various substantive areas of law. Students interact with client CEOs and board members. At times, clinic students provide community education workshops on substantive law issues pertinent to the clinic's practice areas.
We meet twice a week to discuss our work, lawyering skills, and issues facing the community and the region. The weekly seminar is a time for reflection and discussion with a strong emphasis on critical evaluation. We use simulation exercises to explore lawyering skills such as interviewing, counseling, case planning, and negotiation, among others. Part of the seminar is devoted to case rounds, with students discussing what is new and difficult in their cases.
Students typically work in teams of two. The team will meet with their supervisor on a weekly basis. In the seminar and supervision meetings, you will explore important lawyering issues through the lens of your client matters, such as decision-making under conditions of uncertainty, the allocation of power between lawyer and client, and the challenges of representing groups. We will ask you to think through the ethical issues that arise in the matters and in representing organizations. We will ask you to reflect on your work in seminar and through reflection papers.
Some of the CEDC's clients are new nonprofit organizations and social enterprises that need assistance in structuring, developing governance structures, obtaining tax exemption, and complying with government regulations. Others are more established groups that need assistance as their programs grow. For these clients, we may draft and negotiate contracts and leases, create worker-owned cooperatives and social enterprises, counsel groups regarding land use and other regulations, provide tax advice regarding income-generating activities, advise on employment issues, counsel on risk management, and research and advise on copyright and trademark issues. The CEDC represents a broad array of clients, including groups working in urban agriculture and food security, youth development, the sharing economy, and art, media, and artistic production.
You will receive seven credits for the clinic: three for the seminar and four for the client work. Each component is graded separately. The course is graded without a curve. Students are expected to work approximately 20–30 hours per week through the semester (including class preparation and attendance). The clinic has developed an evaluation and grading criteria, which you will receive when you enroll in the clinic. Grades for the seminar take into account class attendance, participation, and preparation for exercises. In grading your client work, we will consider the quality of work you produce, success in collaboration, demonstrated professionalism and effort, reflectiveness, and "billable" hours, among other factors.
Registration for the clinic happens through the clinic registration process. There are no formal prerequisites for the clinic. The substantive law of enterprise organizations, tax, nonprofit, land use, intellectual property, and employment are often used in client work. Prior experience in business or corporate law is not necessary.
Lauren del Valle, Advanced
Chad Richards, Advanced
Lauren del Valle
Sarah Thompson, Advanced