As described in parts I, II & III of this series, UNC Chapel Hill faculty, staff and students are engaged in creative partnerships with Tier I counties across North Carolina. This post is the fourth in a series highlighting community and economic development partnerships between Tier I counties and UNC. The purpose of this series is to provide examples of projects, for potential or future community partners, in which UNC resources have been available to assist Tier I counties.
The Community Development Law (CDL) Clinic at the UNC School of Law provides corporate and transactional counsel to North Carolina nonprofit community development organizations. The CDL Clinic aims to help students develop skills in corporate and transactional law while serving the legal needs of under-resourced North Carolina communities.
CDL students work on a wide variety of business law projects including:
- Forming corporations and limited liability companies.
- Spinning off subsidiaries for existing nonprofit corporations.
- Advising organizations regarding local, state and federal taxation.
- Negotiating and drafting contracts on behalf of nonprofit organizations.
- Helping structure joint ventures between nonprofit and for-profit entities.
- Obtaining necessary state licenses for nonprofit program.
Students take primary responsibility for interviewing clients about their legal needs, structuring the legal projects, negotiating on behalf of their clients and drafting all necessary legal documents. Depending on the scope of the project, students are assigned to clients individually or in teams.
Warren County (Tier I county):
- Over a period of several years the CDL Clinic has furnished legal advice to an emerging community development organization in Warren County. The organization’s mission is to help stimulate jobs and economic growth by turning Warren County and its largest town, Warrenton, into a center for sustainable agriculture. They envision a future downtown dotted with bake shops and organic restaurants, all supplied by Warren County farmers. Because the founders of this new organization view themselves as social entrepreneurs, and because their long-term plans included both commercial and charitable projects, the CDL’s first project was to advise them on what sort of entity or entities to form. Eventually it was determined that they would have to operate multiple entities – some for-profit and some nonprofit. The CDL Clinic guided them through the process of forming a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, performed legal research for them regarding the formation of cooperatives under North Carolina Law, and drafted contracts for them that would give structure to the relationship between their for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Moore County (Tier III county, but with areas of economic distress):
- The CDL Clinic worked with several community based organizations in Moore County. These were small, unincorporated community organizations in low-wealth African-American communities that had for many years been battling various forms of racial discrimination. They realized that they could raise more money and be more effective advocating for their communities if they formalized their existence by incorporating under North Carolina law and obtaining federal tax-exempt status. The CDL Clinic guided them through that process of formalization.
Organizations seeking assistance from the CDL Clinic should contact the faculty supervisor, Thomas Kelley.
Will Lambe authored the NC Rural Center report, Small Towns, Big Ideas, and he served as Director of the Community and Economic Development Program at the School of Government from 2009 to 2014.