NEC member Roger Williams University (RWU), based in Bristol, RI, launched a new law clinic on September 17th that will yield benefits for students, businesses, and the entire region. RWU Law’s Community Economic Development Clinic will give students the opportunity to gain real world experience by providing legal services to nonprofit and community organizations. Through the clinic, students will not only gain valuable experience that will bolster their employment prospects after graduation, but they will also provide a valuable service to the community. The clinic will be led by Associate Clinical Professor of Law Gowri J. Krishna who has previously taught similar programs at both Michigan Law and Fordham Law.
Students will serve organizations that often cannot afford the legal services and advice, including creating and filing legal documents, reviewing leases and other contracts, and helping to determine the best legal structure for the organization. For its inaugural semester, the clinic has enrolled four students and has partnered with three local organizations including a food co-op, a pedicab co-op, and a credit union. Next spring, the clinic will enroll its full goal of ten students working with more organizations for about 20 to 25 hours per week.
“This initiative is a win-win-win scenario that RWU Law is uniquely positioned to offer,” said Dean David A. Logan. “Our students win because they learn important skills working with a seasoned law teacher; clients win because they get much-needed, high-quality legal representation for free; and Rhode Island wins because stronger small businesses and nonprofits make for more robust communities.” Additionally, Krishna explained “In selecting clients, she is prioritizing “organizations that provide a community benefit, that aim to build community wealth or power over the long term; and that incorporate democratic ownership and control.”
Partnerships between students, universities, businesses, and communities often yield substantial benefits to all parties involved. The New England Council congratulates Roger Williams University for opening its new law clinic and looks forward to seeing the program grow and serve communities throughout Rhode Island.