FAMU Law opens Economic Justice Clinic in Orlando
Florida A&M University’s Law School In Orlando opened an Economic Justice Clinic this month to provide free legal services to small and minority-owned businesses and nonprofits. Economic justice is the idea that the economy will be more successful if it is fairer. WMFE’s Talia Blake spoke with Clinic Director Mark Dorosin about the state of fairness in our area and what the clinic hopes to accomplish.
How fair is the Central Florida economy?
When it comes to fairness, Mark Dorosin, director of the clinic, says the economy in Central Florida is similar to the rest of the country, especially when it relates to black Americans.
(edit)"We have a long history of institutional discrimination in this country. And that has manifested itself in numerous ways, which have led to as one of the most significant impacts, but significant wealth gap between black Americans and white Americans."
He said those national trends are reflected here in Central Florida, and in order for the economy to become fairer, certain steps need to be taken.
"We need to ensure that black business owners, black entrepreneurs, have folks that want to start businesses, nonprofit organizations that serve those communities have the same access to resources that other businesses too."
Dorosin explains those include financial resources and political support.
"And for our perspective at FAMU Law School, it includes legal resources," he said. "And that's what the Economic Justice Clinic is going to provide."
The clinic will run like a nonprofit law office.
Dorosin says it will provide direct legal services to clients in order to develop, start or grow their businesses.
Adding to a network of resources
Entrepreneurs in Central Florida have a network of resources to tap into for help with their business.
Some of those resources include the African American Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center, and the National Entrepreneur Center.
Dorosin says the clinic will add to that network.
"We don't intend to sort of replicate opportunities that are out there," he explains.
Dorosin says when businesses are looking for help and are in need of financing, or some more entrepreneurial advice, they need to have a business plan. "That's not something the lawyers would do, but we can connect them with people who can help them do that."
Once the first year of the clinic is done, Dorosin says they will have trained 18 to 24 lawyers "to do community based transactional legal work" and will have helped between 30 and 40 local businesses.
But, he says the ultimate goal of the clinic is to "reestablishes the law school's role in Central Florida as a resource for the community."
How to reach the clinic
To get in touch with the Economic Justice Clinic, visit the FAMU law school website or call 407-254-4000.
If you visit the website, Dorosin says you can fill out a preliminary intake form that help the clinic identify what services you need.
"And we can connect them with the student attorneys who will be in the clinic and we can figure out whether and how we can help," he said.