Community Enterprise Clinic
The Community Enterprise Clinic helps nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs plan and implement community development projects that improve the quality of life in economically disadvantaged areas.
The clinic gives students the opportunity to develop business law skills and expertise as they help organizations that would otherwise not have access to a lawyer overcome barriers, attract resources, and improve the quality of life in the communities they serve. Student-attorneys serve as outside general counsel to the clinic's clients, taking transactional projects from conception to implementation in areas such as affordable housing, community revitalization, business formation, and public policy.
Building on Duke's renowned curriculum in business and finance law, students put what they have learned in the classroom to work for real clients and deepen their understanding of substantive law, including affordable housing and community development law, corporate law, securities law, real estate law, and administrative law. Students not only structure transactions, but also build the skills required in any business law practice, including problem identification and problem-solving, business planning, client interviewing and counseling, negotiating, drafting, legal analysis and case management.
I think my Community Enterprise Clinic experience will make me a better attorney.
In a recent project, the clinic helped client The Scrap Exchange transform a largely vacant Durham shopping center into a "creative reuse arts district." The district, an inventive mix of nonprofits, cooperatives, and for-profit companies, would not only ensure that the Lakewood Shopping Center becomes a profitable asset, but would also be the catalyst for the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood.
The clinic’s student-attorneys took the lead on corporate planning, due diligence, and structuring and closing the financial transaction through which the Scrap Exchange was able to buy the shopping center, including structuring and negotiating a $2.5 million, six-month bridge loan from a local community development lender and managing the tax details and timeline of the project. "Our partnership has been invaluable," said Scrap Exchange Executive Director Ann Woodward. "I am so impressed with [the students'] attention to detail. It would not have happened without them."
In the News
Clinical Professor of Law
Director, Community Enterprise Clinic