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May–June 2009
Huntington, IN
Volume 43, Numbers 1–2

50 East Washington Street Suite 500

Clearinghouse REVIEW
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Taking action to end poverty

Driver-License Restoration

Volume 43, Numbers 1–2    May–June 2009    1–92

Truth in Lending Act
and Foreclosure

Medicaid and Regulating

Cultural Competence

Helping Youths Create

Their Own Jobs

Juvenile Behavioral
Health Court

Challenging Voter
Restriction Laws

Family Court and Representing

Undocumented Domestic
Violence Survivors

Lawyers and Community

Organizers Collaborating
to Save Homes

We invite you to fill out the comment form at
Thank you.
—The Editors

re pre ne ur ship
th E nt
You al Services
A Model for Helping Youths Create Their Own Jobs
Dorcas R. Gilmore By Dorcas R. Gilmore
Skadden Fellow

Community Law Center

3355 Keswick Rd. Suite 200 ore necessary than ever in the face of the loss of wealth in communities of
Baltimore, MD 21211
410.366.0922 color is to create opportunities and facilitate the economic engagement of young people in their communities. Lawyers, community development pro-
fessionals, and youth advocates all can help low-income youths tackle the increasing
employment, education, and wealth gaps in their communities. One way to achieve
higher rates of youth employment, development, and asset building is for youths to
create their own jobs through entrepreneurship. For youths to have the skills, social
networks, and support to build their own organizations and businesses, they need as-
sistance from a range of professionals and advocates.
Here I focus on youth entrepreneurship legal services as a way for community eco-
nomic development (CED) lawyers to be active in building assets and fostering needed
youth development in low-income communities. Youth entrepreneurship legal ser-
vices involve legal assistance to youth entrepreneurs, to organizations that promote
entrepreneurship, and to youth social ventures. By detailing one particular case of
a youth entrepreneurship legal services project, Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative,
I explore two different models of providing legal services to youth entrepreneurs: a
collaborative model and a client model. I identify the many ways that CED lawyers can
help youth entrepreneurs create employment options, and I point out the need for
more focus on this emerging legal services area.

The Problem of Youth Unemployment

Young people started being driven out of the labor market long before the current
recession and are at risk of not being able to break back in, but “[t]he country cannot
allow a generation of young people to fall out of the economy.”1 Only 32.7 percent of
youths 16 to 19 were employed during the summer months of 2008. This rate of youth

Even Worse for Teens, New York Times, Dec. 8, 2008, at A28,

Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy n May–June 2009 37

Youth Entrepreneurship Legal Services: A Model for Helping Youths Create Their Own Jobs

employment marks a sixty-year low.2 As for young people living in low-income

the national economy continues to con- communities. Employment demon-
tract, projections for youth employment strates the need for academic skills; this
in 2009 are even lower.3 Not all youths makes school more relevant and staying
have the same employment prospects. in school more essential.9 Moreover, em-
Racial inequalities and household in- ployment provides many young people
come inequalities have a direct impact with income, which low-income youths
on employment rates.4 White and Asian and their families particularly need.
youths are more likely to be employed
than black and Hispanic youths.5 The A complex problem, youth unemploy-
greatest predictor of youth employment ment calls for multiple approaches to
is family income. Youth employment the current economic crises. One vital
rates increase with higher family in- tool in developing greater levels of youth
come, except for a slight decline in the employment is for young people to create
highest yearly household income bracket their own jobs. Youth entrepreneurship
of $150,000.6 As these patterns indicate, is a strategy for job creation and eco-
low-income black and Hispanic youths nomic development in the communities
are the least likely to be employed.7 where young people live.10

Youth unemployment affects not only Youth Entrepreneurship—A Strategy

individual youths but also their families
and their communities. Young people’s Youth entrepreneurship is a growing area
unemployment is a major problem for in the fields of youth and community de-
workforce development, youth develop- velopment. With its potential for job cre-
ment, and overall economic prosperity. ation, youth entrepreneurship education
Unemployed youths are more likely to enables young people to gain critical fi-
drop out of high school, lack employabil- nancial literacy, leadership, communi-
ity skills and employment track record cation, math skills, and a sense of self-
to gain early entry into the formal labor empowerment.11 By assessing community
market, and earn less over the course of needs, identifying resources, developing
their working lives.8 The relationship plans, communicating those plans orally
between work and school is even greater and in writing, and moving from good

Andrew Sum et al., Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, The Historically Low Summer and Year Round
2008 Teen Employment Rate: The Case for An Immediate National Public Policy Response to Create Jobs for the Nation’s
Youth, (2008),
pdf; Campaign for Youth, Our Youth, Our Economy, Our Future: A National Investment Strategy for Disconnected Youth
(n.d.),; Erik Eckholm, Working Poor and Young Hit Hard in
Downturn, New York Times, Nov. 9, 2008, at A26,
Eckholm, supra note 2.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Unemployment Among Youth, Summer 2008 (Aug. 29, 2008), (“The July 2008 unemployment rates for young men (15.0 percent),
women (12.8 percent), whites (12.3 percent), blacks (24.8 percent), and Hispanics (16.0 percent) increased from a year
earlier. The jobless rate for Asians (8.4 percent) was about unchanged from July 2007.”).
Sum et al., supra note 2; Thomas M Shapiro, The Hidden Cost of Being African-American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality
60–62 (2004).
Andrew Sum et al., Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, The Collapse of the National Teen Job
Market and the Case for an Immediate Summer and Year Round Youth Jobs Creation Program (2008), www.clms.neu.
Id. at 4.
Id. at 7–8.

See, e.g., Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group, Aspen Institute,



Youth Entrepreneurship Study Group, Aspen Institute, Youth Entrepreneurship Education in America: A Policymaker’s

Action Guide 15 [(2008)],

38 Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy n May–June 2009

Youth Entrepreneurship Legal Services: A Model for Helping Youths Create Their Own Jobs

plans to implementation, youth entre- more relevant to young people. The As-
preneurs become critical thinkers who pen Institute’s Youth Entrepreneurship
are more engaged in their communities. Strategy (YES) Group is building a na-
Youths learn that they have options.12 tional policy agenda for the successful
Youths creating jobs that lead to their integration of entrepreneurship educa-
own employment build wealth in com- tion into the public education curricula.
munities.13 YES promotes youth entrepreneurship
to deal with high school dropout rates,
Internationally and nationally, youth en- workforce development, youth engage-
trepreneurship is building momentum as ment, and community development.16
a CED strategy. By using the assets such During National Entrepreneurship Week
as enthusiasm, openness to new ideas, (the last week of every February), the
and sophistication with technology that Consortium for Entrepreneurship Edu-
youths generally bring to business de- cation promotes greater awareness about
velopment, youth entrepreneurship in- the innovative potential of youth entre-
tegrates young people into the economic preneurship education and enterprise
development of their own communities. development.17
The second annual Global Youth En-
terprise Conference in 2008 brought Policymakers, teachers, and economic
together CED and youth development development professionals recognize
practitioners, funders, government of- youth entrepreneurship as a tool to pro-
ficials, business people, and youth en- mote high school completion, instill
trepreneurs from fifty countries to share critical thinking skills, and build assets
the best practices of developing and op- in low-income communities. Howev-
erating youth entrepreneurship techni- er, for youths to develop and grow their
cal assistance services. The conference businesses, they need access to business
was a venue for participants to learn from education, financial literacy, supportive
youth entrepreneurs themselves.14 Large adults, financial resources, and business
development organizations such as the legal services.
United Nations, the International La-
bour Organization, and the World Bank Indispensable Legal Services
have partnered to gather and create poli-
cies and tools that promote youth entre- Starting a business is daunting without
preneurship.15 legal assistance; turning a great idea into
a viable business can be challenging.
Throughout the United States, various Choice of entity, licenses, permits, con-
organizations have been promoting youth tracts, and intellectual property protec-
enterprise as a component of American tion are legal issues that can hinder en-
competitiveness in the global economy. trepreneurial endeavors.18 Low-income
Youth enterprise is also a proven means entrepreneurs often lack access to legal
of engaging and reconnecting youth with help to overcome these barriers. Howev-
schools by making academic curricula

Id. at 17.

Making Cents International, Youth Microenterprise and Livelihoods: State of the Field— Lessons from the 2007

Global Youth Microenterprise Conference [(2008)],

See International Labour Organization, Youth Entrepreneurship (n.d.),
Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group, supra note 10.
For more about this event, see Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, National Entrepreneurship Week, www.

Susan R. Jones, Symposium: Current Issues in Community Economic Development: Supporting Urban Entrepreneurs:

Law, Policy, and the Role of Lawyers in Small Business Development, 30 Western New England Law Review 71, 89–90 (2007);
Laurie Hauber, Symposium Article: Promoting Economic Justice Through Transactional Community-Centered Lawyering,
27 St. Louis University Public Law Review 3, 14 (2007).

Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy n May–June 2009 39

Youth Entrepreneurship Legal Services: A Model for Helping Youths Create Their Own Jobs

er, during the last twenty years, a network Jermaine, 16, knows that people tend to
of small business clinics and pro bono le- listen to others who are their own age.
gal services has developed to help them.19 He sees this reality as an opportunity to
influence the way his peers think about
Legal assistance is a crucial part of de- their power to change their communi-
veloping self-employment options and ties. He and some of his friends organize
businesses in low-income communi- youth events and parties that spotlight
ties.20 Business ownership by low-income and raise funds for local youth orga-
and minority residents in the community nizations. He is also training his peers
helps sustain economic development.21 in event planning and promotions. He
For lack of capital, training, and social knows that his activities could translate
networks to build the resources necessary into a more formal organization and is
to create and sustain businesses, low- one of many young people in Baltimore
income youth entrepreneurs face even working to grow Peer 2 Peer Youth Enter-
greater challenges to business develop- prises, employing young people to teach
ment and growth than their older coun- skills to their cohorts.24
terparts.22 Legal services can help youth Jermaine and Kendra share a passion for
entrepreneurs launch businesses to max- their ideas, a belief in their ability to bring
imize their unique, if limited, resources. them to life, and the hope that others will
help them launch their own businesses
Youth Entrepreneurship and organizations. They are not afraid
Legal Services of the challenges of starting something
Youths overwhelmingly want to be their new. They simply need the assistance of
own bosses; almost 60 percent of them CED professionals and supportive adults
say they want to have their own business and the financing to help them realize
someday.23 The stories of low-income their dreams. CED lawyers can guide and
youths who are working to transform their advise youth entrepreneurs.
dreams into realities encourage CED law- In 2001 the American Bar Association
yers to help them reach their goals. identified youth entrepreneurship legal
For example, Kendra, 20, has always had services as an unmet legal need, and this
a knack for fashion. Since middle school, continues to be an area that needs greater
she has enjoyed creating designs and attention. By targeting youth entrepre-
made T-shirts for friends. She started neurs, lawyers can provide business legal
with a talent and attended a high school education and legal counsel empowering
for fashion design. She is now in com- young people to succeed.
munity college for fashion design, works
two jobs, and continues to pursue her Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative
passion through a youth entrepreneur- The Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative
ship organization. She dreams of having (YEI) is an example of a youth entrepre-
her own store within the next three years neurship legal services project. I found-
and contributing to the economic vitality ed YEI in 2007 as a Skadden Fellowship
of her community.
Susan R. Jones, Small Business and Community Economic Development: Transactional Lawyering for Social Change and

Economic Justice, 4 Clinical Law Review 195, 200–202 (1997).

Scott L. Cummings, Community Economic Development as Progressive Politics: Toward a Grassroots Movement for
Economic Justice, 54 Stanford Law Review 399, 403–4 (2001). See also the special issue on “Economic Development
Strategies for Individuals and Communities,” 37 Clearinghouse Review 123 (July–Aug. 2003).
Robert Suggs, Bringing Small Business Development to Urban Neighborhoods, 30 Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law
Review 487, 503 (1995).
See my Expanding Opportunities for Low-income Youth: Making Space for Youth Entrepreneurship Legal Services, 18
Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law 3 (2009).
Junior Achievement, Junior Achievement’s 2008 “Teens and Entrepreneurship” Poll (Nov. 17, 2008),
polls/entrepreneurship_2008.pdf. The percentage of teens who want to own a business marks a 7 percent decline from
the previous year (id.).
For more information, see Peer 2 Peer Youth Enterprises,
40 Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy n May–June 2009
Youth Entrepreneurship Legal Services: A Model for Helping Youths Create Their Own Jobs

project at the Community Law Center in Collaboration Model

Baltimore, Maryland.25 YEI provides le-
gal education and legal services to low-
income youths who are or aspire to be
entrepreneurs. YEI serves youth orga-
nizations that support youth entrepre-
neurs. YEI targets people 14 to 24 who
live in Baltimore. Mentoring Education
YEI uses two models of providing legal
services: a collaboration model and a
client model. YEI serves as the CED law-
yer in both models. The collaboration Coordination
model focuses on building the knowl-
edge and capabilities of youths who want
to become entrepreneurs, and the client
Youth Development Legal Education
model serves and supports youth entre- and Advice
preneurs and youth organizations. and Engagement

The collaboration model involves a CED

lawyer who works with youth develop-
ment professionals, community or-
ganizations, and technical assistance
providers to coordinate holistic entre- and facilitates dialogue. The CED lawyer
preneurship education and enterprise brings together the recreation center
development services for youth. As with staff, the community association repre-
any collaborative model, YEI could not sentative, the youth entrepreneurship
perform its function without the con- education organization, and the small
tributions of other organizations. The business technical assistance provider to
figure on this page is a representation of determine the class schedule, available
the collaboration model. In the collabo- resources, and youths interested in the
ration model, YEI is one part of the larger program.
picture of youth entrepreneurship edu-
cation and support for youth ventures. In the second scenario, the client model,
YEI works with a youth entrepreneurship
YEI implements the collaboration model organization. YEI provides the business
in two different situations. The first sce- legal education and legal counsel for as-
nario involves working principally with a piring youth entrepreneurs to start their
community association to determine the own businesses. YEI developed a work-
structure and implementation of collab- shop series, entitled “Getting YOURS
orative youth entrepreneurship educa- the Right Way,” in collaboration with
tion and technical assistance. The col- YOURS (Youth Organizing Urban Revi-
laborators are a youth entrepreneurship talization Systems), a nonprofit youth
education organization, a small business entrepreneurship organization. Getting
technical assistance provider, the com- YOURS the Right Way is a business legal
munity association, and YEI. For YEI, the education and brief-advice model. Youth
community settings for the collaboration entrepreneurs biweekly learn business
are neighborhood recreation centers. law basics by starting with a simple busi-
The objective is to expose youths to the ness question. For example, the question
idea of entrepreneurship as a career pos- “What is your product/service?” begins
sibility in a community-based setting. a discussion about licenses and permits
Participants attend a weekly series of to sell a particular product or service.
youth entrepreneurship education ses- Using the participants’ own business
sions at neighborhood recreation cen- ideas, the sessions teach basic business
ters. YEI coordinates the collaboration

The Community Law Center is a legal services organization with the mission of providing legal services and technical

assistance to improve the quality of life and economic viability of communities.

Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy n May–June 2009 41

Youth Entrepreneurship Legal Services: A Model for Helping Youths Create Their Own Jobs

law concepts such as choice of entity and ent model, youth entrepreneurs become
why choice of entity is key to starting and more connected to resources that facili-
growing a business. Through individual tate business development and help them
brief-advice sessions, participants re- navigate the legal landscape of business
ceive legal advice during business plan- development and growth. The CED law-
ning. The CED lawyer explains how the yer plays multiple roles—coordinator, fa-
law applies to entrepreneurship. cilitator, educator, transactional lawyer,
connector, resource builder, and mentor.
In the client model the CED lawyer pro-
vides business legal services to youth
entrepreneurs, youth organizations, More Resources and Support
and youth social ventures. While simi- Youth unemployment and its potential
lar to small business and nonprofit legal long-term effect on wages and economic
services, youth entrepreneurship legal opportunities constitute a growing social
services center more on the unique tal- problem that deserves greater attention
ents and social circumstances of young among legal practitioners, scholars, poli-
people. In the attorney-client relation- cymakers, and youth advocates. A com-
ship the CED lawyer drafts organizational prehensive strategy to solve this problem
documents, reviews bylaws and contracts, is urgently needed, particularly for low-
and informs clients of their obligations as income youths who are most at risk of be-
an employer. The CED lawyer not only ing unemployed. Youth self-employment
explains to youth entrepreneurs their op- through entrepreneurship is one piece
tions for business entity formation but of a holistic strategy to meet the problem
also helps develop a structure that has a head-on.
supportive adult with authority to sign all
business documents. For more low-income youths to build
their own organizations and businesses
Since youth entrepreneurs generally successfully, they need access to a diverse
have less exposure to the social and pro- skill set and a group of mentors and tech-
fessional networks that seed and grow nical assistance providers. YEI demon-
businesses, the CED lawyer can extend strates one model of providing a range
social capital to youth entrepreneurs by of youth entrepreneurship legal servic-
connecting them to business and pro- es. Since this field of CED lawyering is
fessional contacts; this builds the youth relatively new and in need of expansion,
entrepreneur’s resources. By inform- more work in this area will bring differ-
ing young people of local resources such ent models to the forefront. This emerg-
as small business planning classes and ing legal services area has the potential to
youth grants, the CED lawyer helps build expand CED lawyering to cover youth as
resources available to youth entrepre- contributors to the economic develop-
neurs. By connecting young people to ment of their communities and thus re-
other professionals and building busi- solve a national problem.
ness resources, the CED lawyer serves as
a mentor. Fostering the development of commu-
nity institutions that are owned by resi-
The two models highlight youth develop- dents in low-income communities is at
ment and community development goals CED’s heart. Supporting low-income
in different ways. With both models, youths who are creating these institutions
youth entrepreneurship legal services, in their own communities is essential
as in small-business legal services gen- to expanding CED efforts. Many youths
erally, require a collaborative and inter- are interested in entrepreneurship, but
Comments? disciplinary approach to providing legal they need more resources and support
We invite you to fill out
services. The collaboration model focus- to achieve their dreams. Youth entrepre-
the comment form at es more on bringing greater community neurship legal services bring CED law- and youth development resources and yers into helping youths build skills, cre-
Thank you.
—The Editors
institutions to bear on assisting youth in ate their own jobs, and contribute to their
gaining entrepreneurial skills. In the cli- communities.

42 Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy n May–June 2009

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