Urban Entrepreneurship Legal Resource Materials

Entrepreneurship Law Editorial Team


Scott L. Cummings, Mobilization Lawyering: Community Economic Development in the Figueroa Corridor, in Cause Lawyers and Social Movements 302, 303 (Austin Sarat & Stuart A. Scheingold eds., 2006).



Raymond H. Brescia, Robin Golden & Robert A. Solomon, Who's in Charge Anyway? A Proposal for Community Based Legal Services, 25 Fordham Urb. L.J. 831 (1998).

Abstract: In this article, we reexamine this service mode, its benefits and deficiencies. We argue that the service model is not the best use of a limited legal resource. Legal services programs can improve the quality of their service by establishing community-based programs which emphasize closer links with community groups and community institutions. By moving in this direction, legal services programs will be better situated to mobilize community resources and reflect community priorities. A community-based program will avoid the top-down, lawyer-dominated priorities that we believe now exist.

Joel W. Cook & Lee Burke, An Alliance of University Faculty to Facilitate the Development of Competitive Advantage in the Inner City: The Case of SiNGA, 1998, Int'l Ass'n for Bus. & Soc'y 109 (1998).

Patience A. Crowder, More Than Merely Incidental: Third-Party Beneficiary Rights in Urban Redevelopment Contracts, 17 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 287 (2010).

Abstract (from author): Historically speaking, community groups that seek to become involved in city-sponsored redevelopment projects have limited avenues of participation from which to choose. Most avenues of participation are found in administrative law, tort law, or constitutional law and relief is getting harder to obtain. Given the proliferation of privatization and public-private partnerships between local governments and private developers, contract law, the third-party beneficiary rule in particular, offers another realm of rights for urban residents confronted by redevelopment projects. Considering the totality of the circumstances surrounding redevelopment projects, urban residents, an identifiable class for whom public-private partners designate benefits, should be able to obtain relief as third-party beneficiaries to breached redevelopment deal contracts when a redevelopment project fails.

Susan R. Jones, Supporting Urban Entrepreneurs: Law, Policy & the Role of Lawyers in Small Business Development, 30 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 71 (2007).

Abstract (from author): This Essay explores the challenges of urban entrepreneurship and how lawyers, academics, businesspeople, policymakers, and community leaders can help small businesses succeed. In the United States, small businesses represent ninety-nine percent of all inner-city businesses, generate sixty to eighty percent of net new jobs annually, and account for almost fifty percent of private payroll. Indeed, domestic "structural economic shifts" have moved the nation from a goods-producing to a service-producing economy. The economic shift to a service-producing economy and the national focus on economic self-sufficiency have fueled interest in small businesses as part of job creation and self-employment strategies.

Jeffrey S. Lehman & Rochelle E. Lento, Law School Support for Community-Based Economic Development in Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods, 42 J. Urb. & Contemp. L. 65 (1992).

William H. Mellor & Patricia H. Lee, Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship: A Real World Model in Stimulating Private Enterprise in the Inner City, 5 J. Small & Emerging Bus. L. 71 (2001). 

Abstract (from authors): Every day, hundreds of thousands of Americans engage in the most massive expression of civil disobedience this country has ever seen. They face arrest, fines, and even imprisonment as a result of their action. You will not find these people on picket lines or being hauled away in paddy wagons after raucous demonstrations. Instead, you will find that through countless activities and with tireless energy, they all seek the same goal - to earn an honest living for themselves and their families. Tragically, they do so under the laws and regulations of cities and states across the nation that treat them as second-class citizens or, even worse, make them outlaws. The Institute for Justice (IJ) Clinic on Entrepreneurship provides opportunities for such enterprising individuals to enter the formal economy and realize their American dreams. This Essay provides the personal perspective of the authors and a brief overview of the watershed decisions and building blocks necessary to open a clinical legal program designed to educate law students, assist entry-level entrepreneurs with start-up transactions, and navigate entrepreneurs through the regulatory arena. It also illustrates the transformative potential of entrepreneurship in economically depressed communities.


Product Description (from Amazon): African American entrepreneurship has been an integral part of the American economy since the 1600s. On the eve of the Civil War, the collective wealth of free blacks was approximately $50 million. In 2006, African Americans earned a whopping $744 billion, a figure that exceeds the gross domestic product of all but 15 nations of the 192 independent countries in the world. As W. Sherman Rogers so ably demonstrates, African Americans have achieved these economic gains under difficult circumstances. Slavery, segregation, and legally limited access to property, education, and other opportunities have taken a heavy toll, even to this day. Besides providing a penetrating glimpse into the world of black entrepreneurship both past and present, this book urges African Americans to gain financial independence as entrepreneurs. Business ownership, Rogers argues, will bring security, wealth that can be passed to successive generations, and educated offspring with much greater earning power.

Peter W. Salsich, Jr., The Urban Housing Symposium: Interdisciplinary Study in a Clinical Setting, 44 St. Louis U. L.J. 949 (2000).

Abstract (from Author): In this essay, I describe an interdisciplinary program that began as a cooperative experiment between Professor Tom Thomson of the Washington University School of Architecture and me. We used a hypothetical problem as a way of demonstrating to architecture and law students the important interdisciplinary relationships that the two professions have in the context of real estate development. Eight years later, we are part of a five-discipline program, the Urban/Housing Issues Symposium, in which the problems are the actual requests for proposals (RFPs) submitted by neighborhood organizations and persons working with those entities. The essay reviews the growth of the program and its accomplishments, as well as some of the difficulties that must be overcome in order to institutionalize such a program. It concludes with recommendations for expanding the symposium into a two-semester program, with students preparing responses to neighborhood RFPs during the first semester and working on the implementation of selected proposals through clinical placements during the second semester.

Richard C. Schragger, Rethinking the Theory and Practice of Local Economic Development, 77 U. Chi. L. Rev. 311 (2010).

Abstract (from author): Scholars of urban law and policy tend to assume that local officials can exert some influence over city well-being. More specifically, the literature assumes that government policies—either at the federal, state, or local level—can influence local economic growth and decline, the most important determinants of a city's health. This connection between policy and local economic outcomes implies a theory of how cities form and grow, however, and legal scholars have not adequately articulated such a theory. This Article argues that we need a better (and more self-conscious) account of city formation and local economic growth. The Article then tests our intuitions about the relationship between policy and economic development by considering a number of explanations for why cities have resurged over the last fifteen to twenty years. Finally, the Article contrasts two economic development policies that have been adopted in New York City—one that preceded the recent financial crisis and one that followed it. The Article concludes that we do not know enough to be able to predict how one policy or another will affect city growth and decline.

Lewis D. Solomon, Microenterprise: Human Reconstruction in America's Inner Cities, 15 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 191 (1992).

Abstract (from author): Microenterprise loans offer a promising approach to breaking the cycle of poverty in the inner cities. Microenterprises typically employ less than five people and begin with loans under $5,000. The successful Grameen Bank, a borrowers' cooperative in Bangladesh, provides the model for microenterprise lending, which does not require collateral. The Women's Self-Employment Project in Chicago, IL, began a program in 1988 modeled on the Grameen Bank approach. The adoption of microenterprise lending to the US urban environment faces a number of obstacles but does offer hope.

Dana Thompson, L3Cs: An Innovative Choice for Urban Entrepreneurs and Urban Revitalization, 2 Am. U. Bus. L. Rev. 115 (2012).

Abstract (adapted from author): Social enterprises offer fresh ways of addressing seemingly intractable social problems, such as high levels of unemployment and poverty in economically distressed urban areas in the United States. Though there is not a singularly accepted legal definition of social enterprises, they are popularly known as businesses that use for-profit business practices, principles, and discipline to accomplish socially beneficial goals. Social entrepreneurs, those who operate social enterprises, eschew a traditional notion of charity, which primarily relies on charitable donations to eliminate societal ills and instead employ market-oriented strategies to achieve social good. Social enterprises blur the lines among the nonprofit, for-profit, and government sectors, and given their innovative and distinct characteristics, require new legal entities to meet their needs. New legal entity forms, such as the low-profit limited liability company (L3C), the benefit corporation, and the flexible purpose corporation, were created in response to the needs of social entrepreneurs for new legal entities, other than traditional for-profit and nonprofit entities, that can attract the necessary funding for their ventures while also achieving their social missions. As with other social entrepreneurs, minority urban entrepreneurs determined to use their businesses to make a profit and provide positive social outcomes in economically distressed urban areas also need innovative legal entities to attract funding and fulfill their social missions. The L3C, though needing changes to enhance its effectiveness, holds promise for minority-owned small businesses in urban areas with socially beneficial goals that are in need of capital to establish and to operate their businesses.  It is important to establish viable minority-owned social enterprises in urban areas because many urban areas in the United States face substantial challenges, such as high levels of poverty and unemployment. Social enterprises in these areas could play a role in revitalizing these financially troubled urban areas by providing jobs to residents and needed revenues, products, and services to these areas.

David Dante Troutt, Ghettoes Made Easy: The Metamarket/Antimarket Dichotomy and the Legal Challenges of Inner-City Economic Development, 35 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 427 (2000).

Abstract: Although persistent inner-city poverty and underdevelopment have outlasted decades of serious legal scholarship and advocacy, proving to be largely unaffected by upturns in the economy, this Article offers a renewed commitment to legal perspectives on economic development. The growing emphasis on economic development work by lawyers challenges legal scholarship to erect a framework beyond traditional poverty and civil rights law tenets by joining the law's unique contributions with the many disciplines already active in community building or empowerment efforts. Successful development of a multidisciplinary framework requires comparative economic assessments that cross the ghetto's stark boundaries into the middle-class communities in which most of us live.

Kyle R. Williams, Note, State Tax Credits for Private Start-up Capital: Arching Toward Urban “Entrepreneurial Redevelopment,” 6 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 299 (2001).

Abstract from introduction: This Note discusses the concept of “entrepreneurial redevelopment,” a strategy implicit in modern urban economic development planning.  Entrepreneurial redevelopment is introduced and examined here through a comparative analysis with Missouri's recently enacted Tax Credit For Investments In Missouri Small Businesses Act (the “Missouri Act”).  The Missouri Act employs entrepreneurial redevelopment at the state level in the form of an outside investor incentive aimed specifically at small business investments and small business investors.  Recognizing, of course, that great business ideas often fall far away from the ‘money tree,’ the Missouri Act utilizes investors to create the entrepreneurial activity necessary to stimulate growth in urban areas.  Part I of this Note introduces Missouri's innovative response to the challenge of urban redevelopment.  Part I will describe the Missouri Act in detail, first on a functional level and then on a policy level. Next, Part II will introduce the Enterprise Zone and provide an overview of the Missouri Act's problematic operational and policy effects by way of comparison to Enterprise Zones.  Part III describes the conflicting statutory enactments and policy objectives between Enterprise Zones and the Missouri Act. Part III also discusses the pivotal “fixed pool” assumption, as embodied in the Missouri Act, and explores and details this assumption as it affects Missouri's implemented redevelopment strategy.  Part III then presents arguments for rejecting the “fixed pool” assumption in the Missouri Act.  In conclusion, this Note recommends a less restrictive ‘free-market’ clause to fully initialize entrepreneurial redevelopment, reversing the current ‘fixed-pool’ statutory assumption and its stifling ramifications.

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