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Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development

Community and Economic Development (CED) is an interdisciplinary approach to legal advocacy that emphasizes collaboration with community organizations to promote economic growth and empowerment in underserved neighborhoods. The Ludwig Center for CED is one of the most interdisciplinary law school clinics in the country. In addition to law students, the Clinic is open to students from the Schools of Management, Divinity, Forestry and Environmental Studies, Public Health, and Architecture with prior approval from a law school faculty member. The Ludwig Center is also unusual among YLS clinics in that it offers law students the chance to do pro bono transactional lawyering and policy work.

The Ludwig Center for CED focuses on issues of neighborhood revitalization, social entrepreneurship, sustainable development, and financial access. Students in the CED Clinic represent and partner with community organizations, nonprofits, banks, local government, and small businesses. They work in regulatory, transactional, business, policy research, development, advocacy, and strategic capacities. The Clinic’s clients are primarily located in New Haven, but also include, for example, a community development financial institution located in Washington, D.C.

The distribution of work varies among the Clinic’s working groups. At least one supervising attorney and a student director supervise each working group. Each group meets on a weekly basis to discuss current projects and any problems or issues related to client matters. Students in their first semester also take a CED seminar that examines private and public sector development approaches, as well as topics related to formation and governance of for-profit and not-for-profit entities, strategic planning and decision-making, and negotiating and drafting contracts.

Representative Matters

The Clinic’s currently has four groups: Community Development Financial Institutions, Social Innovation, Neighborhood Development Projects, and Community Development Organizations. A small sample of projects undertaken in recent semesters include:

  • Students created a new bank-rating system, later adopted by the City of New Haven as local government policy, to promote community-friendly banking practices for underbanked communities in the city.
  • Students recently commented on new SEC regulations regarding crowdfunding by community development financial institutions.
  • Students have worked on a range of projects for All Our Kin, a local nonprofit organization founded by a YLS alumna that provides training, support, and resources for women who operate child care businesses out of their homes.
  • Students helped a local nonprofit organization that operates community gardens and provides education on healthy eating to underserved communities expand their business to farmers markets while complying with IRS requirements. Students also negotiated a lease for a new farming site.
  • Students recently helped the St. Luke’s Development Corporation (SLDC), a nonprofit associated with a religious group located near campus dedicated to promoting economic growth in the Greater Dwight community, acquire properties necessary for a mixed-use housing and commercial development project. This semester, students are helping SLDC pursue land use approvals for the project.
  • Students have undertaken a variety of projects for local community development organizations, including the local development corporation that brought the new Stop & Shop to Whalley Avenue.

Student work also involves policy research and development; formation of for-profit and not-for-profit entities; negotiating and drafting contracts; lease negotiations; tax planning; structuring real estate transactions; assessing the financial feasibility of proposed development projects; securing funding from federal, state, local, and private sources; and resolving zoning and environmental issues.