Putting the Community into Community Lawyering

Chris Coble and CEDC student lawyers discuss Five Points

Student lawyers in Denver Law’s Community Economic Development Clinic (CEDC) represent small business owners, non-profit corporations and community-based associations and enterprises. To do it well, says CEDC Director Patience Crowder, they must understand and appreciate the community in which their clients operate. So the week before Fall 2012 classes began, Professor Crowder and Whiting Clinical Fellow Eric Franklin took their students on a tour of the Five Points neighborhood, just northeast of downtown, historically rich, and home to many of the CEDC’s clients.

In Five Points, Crowder and Franklin arranged for clinic students to meet with Chris Coble, co-founder and managing director of Black Label Real Estate. Chris has been working in the community since 1998. “There’s no other place in Denver, situated so close to downtown, with this amount of space available for coordinated development,” Chris told the eight CEDC student lawyers accompanying him on a walking tour of Five Points. He described the neighborhood’s significant place in the history of Denver. For a century Five Points has been home to a large African American population, supporting businesses, community organizations, and cultural and entertainment venues. Coordinated development, Chris explained, respects and engages the past, partnering economic opportunity with existing culture.

“The challenge now is to make Five Points an active player in Denver’s downtown commerce while sustaining the parts of this community that really stand for something,” Chris stated. “There is a huge opportunity here for economic development that respects and plays on the rich and important history and legacy of Five Points.” Denver Law’s student lawyers will have an opportunity to play a role in that development throughout the upcoming year. -rw

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