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In 1999 the District of Columbia Bar Pro Bono Program launched the Community Economic Development (CED) Project. The CED Project’s mission is to provide legal assistance to community based nonprofit organizations and small business entrepreneurs serving low–income communities or who are economically disadvantaged.
The CED Project accomplishes its mission by:
- Matching community based nonprofits with pro bono legal counsel. Through the CED Project, pro bono counsel have assisted nonprofit organizations in such areas as employment law, real estate, corporate governance, contract review, intellectual property, and exempt organizations.
- Conducting training sessions in partnership with other nonprofit and government agencies. These sessions help educate nonprofit organizations and small businesses on important legal issues such as board governance, employment law, nonprofit regulation, and other legal issues.
- Arranging legal counsel for low–income tenant associations. Through the Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force, the CED Project works with other social services agencies and pro bono counsel to provide legal assistance to tenant associations whose buildings are being sold, are converting to condominiums, or which are eligible for Section 8 assistance.
- Sponsoring walk–in small business legal clinics. The purpose of the clinics is to provide legal information to small business owners who operate in economically disadvantaged areas or who have limited financial resources. The clinic provides current and aspiring business owners an opportunity to speak with an attorney. The Project recruits volunteer attorneys who help review paperwork and answer questions about business formation, taxation, real estate leases, employment law, and other issues common to small business owners. The Project also provides resources to the volunteer attorneys to assist them in answering such questions.
To date, the CED Project has provided the following assistance to people and organizations in need of legal assistance:
- Matched over 340 nonprofit organizations with pro bono counsel for ongoing legal representation.
- Assisted over 430 small business owners through the small business clinics.