Faculty Spotlight

Professor De Barbieri Hired to Head New Community Development Clinic

Edward W. De Barbieri

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An expert in community-based startups, Albany Law School Professor Edward W. De Barbieri is ready to get to work connecting the Capital Region's small business and nonprofit sectors with free legal assistance while providing his students hands-on training. 

Professor De Barbieri was recently hired as director of Albany Law's Community Development Clinic, which will begin operations in January 2017 as a hub to support the area's emerging micro-businesses.

The Community Development Clinic — made possible by a major gift from Edward P. Swyer and The Swyer Family Foundation — will provide: pro bono legal services and outreach to clients, in coordination with local law firms and service providers; help with identifying micro-loan funding sources; and assistance with creating a business plan through coordination with the University at Albany School of Business, among other activities. It is part of The Justice Center.

"The Capital Region has an emerging innovation economy — it also has significant income and wealth inequality.  The Community Development Clinic will serve clients that currently don't have access to pro bono legal services but need representation in forming a new not-for-profit, or small business, or assistance advocating for economic development in a particular neighborhood," Professor De Barbieri said. "I'm thrilled to be a part of Albany Law School's efforts to train transactional lawyers in learning critical skills while serving communities in the Capital Region."

With Professor De Barbieri at the helm, students, under faculty or attorney supervision, will help the businesses choose and form the appropriate entity, protect intellectual property assets, access grant funding, audit employment policies, write contracts, and more.

“I'm thrilled to be a part of Albany Law School's efforts to train transactional lawyers in learning critical skills while serving communities in the Capital Region.”

"There are a number of exciting pipelines from which the Clinic will draw clients — from the Blackstone LaunchPad at UAlbany and Innovate 518, to the Capital Region's robust faith community, and the rich nonprofit sector — and students will be involved in conducting intake and deciding what cases to take on," Professor De Barbieri said. "I expect students who enroll in the clinic to learn key lawyering skills, like client counseling and interviewing, as well as hard transactional skills like contract drafting and negotiation, and deal closing. I also expect students to practice professional communication skills, including facilitating meetings and conference calls, as well as editing and sending professional emails."

He will measure the clinic's impact on the community in multiple ways: "For nonprofit clients, clinic support will result in more nonprofits conducting activities to serve area residents across neighborhoods in the Capital Region; for small business clients, clinic representation will result in a more streamlined entity formation and start-up phase, leading hopefully to faster staffing up and sales; and last, support for community groups will mean advocacy and results in expanding the benefits of economic development to groups that are often excluded from such benefits."

"At the same time," he added, "the next generation of attorneys practicing in the Capital Region will have a sense of duty, instilled in them upon entering the profession, to contribute their skills and talents to improve their community as a whole."

Professor De Barbieri joined the Albany Law faculty in December. He was previously an assistant professor of clinical law, director of the Urban Economic Development Clinic, and counsel to the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) at Brooklyn Law School. He has also taught as an adjunct professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law.

Professor De Barbieri was a Fulbright Research Fellow at University College Cork, Ireland, and Equal Justice Works Fellow and senior staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center's Community Development Project, where he advised nonprofit organizations and provided legal assistance to low-income workers, tenants, and homeowners facing foreclosure. He writes about the role of public participation in land use and economic development. His most recent article, "Do Community Benefits Agreements Benefit Communities?," was published in the Cardozo Law Review (June 2016).

His work has been highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

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