COMMUNITY LAW CENTER INC

Rating: 5 stars   9 reviews

Issues: Crime & Law, Economic Development

Location: 3355 Keswick Road Suite 200 Baltimore MD 21211 USA

Mission: Community Law Center, a nonprofit law firm, provides legal services to community and nonprofit organizations throughout Maryland to promote stronger nonprofits and more vibrant neighborhoods.
Results: Throughout the 25 years of our history, Community Law Center has worked steadily with neighborhoods, the City, and the State to develop methods, laws and regulations that support the efforts of communities to improve their circumstances. Issues addressed over the years include:  Fighting the installation of illegal billboards, advertising undesirable products, in low-income communities  Creating innovative strategies to have court appointed receivers oversee the renovations of vacant properties  Developing a self-help nuisance abatement strategy to allow communities to board up vacant properties, rather than waiting for the City or the owner to do it  Formulating the strategy of filing drug nuisance abatement cases to combat the use of neighborhood homes as drug distribution points and “shooting galleries”  Initiating and amending “Community Bill of Rights” legislation, allowing community associations to seek enforcement of housing, building, zoning and health codes in their neighborhoods  Partnering with CDCs to reduce crime in neighborhoods through drug nuisance abatement and other strategies, helping property values to rise  Fighting open-air drug markets by forcing the removal of illegal payphones, and bringing suit against owners of vicious dogs used by drug dealers to intimidate community leaders  Investigating the practices of licensing bodies, to ensure the fair and complete compliance with applicable statutes  Facilitating legislation allowing vacant lots to be turned into side yards and community gardens and permitting alley-gating projects, and offering legal representation to the communities using these laws  Coordinating the task force addressing property-flipping and other predatory real estate practices in Baltimore City, and developing partnerships for the enforcement of applicable regulations
Target demographics: Community Law Center serves nonprofit organizations and neighborhood and community groups. CLC represents only organizational clients in Maryland.
Geographic areas served: State of Maryland
Programs: Community Law Center (CLC)’s legal services are provided by staff attorneys through our Community Legal Services Program or volunteer attorneys through our Pro Bono Program. CLC staff and volunteer attorneys generally serve clients in three ways: 1) Brief advice, referral, and education; 2) Long-term legal assistance; and 3) Direct legal representation. The preparatory capacity-building work done at case intake is one of the most important services offered by CLC. Clients are required to examine their own organization’s capacity and procedures, and to carefully consider which legal matter they wish to resolve, and whether they are prepared to pursue the matter as an organization. Organizations come away with a better understanding of the requirements to operate properly as a nonprofit, and with clearer notions of what they must do to retain their Good Standing with the State of Maryland, tax-exempt status with the I.R.S., and as proper plaintiffs in court actions. The Pro Bono Program’s volunteer attorneys handle complex matters, from intellectual property to employment law to real estate, as our clients strive to improve the stability, health, safety, and attractiveness of their neighborhoods. CLC helps groups that would otherwise be unable to afford the legal assistance needed to get started, protect their legal rights, or achieve their missions. The Community Legal Services Program provides direct legal representation by staff attorneys to community organizations, community development corporations (CDCs), and nonprofits in Baltimore City to bring neighborhood revitalization goals to fruition. Every day, CLC staff attorneys use the power of the law to make Baltimore’s neighborhoods cleaner, safer, and more attractive places through four focus areas: 1. Neighborhood Revitalization: represents Baltimore City communities to protest liquor license renewals and transfers for bars and package goods stores that refuse to be good neighbors; stop drug dealers using houses to distribute narcotics; and offer legal assistance for neighborhood associations to realize their revitalization goals. 2. Environmental Justice: provides legal services to community and nonprofit organizations working to green their environment, remove threats to public health and safety, and participate in the land use and permitting decision-making processes using environmental, zoning, and transportation laws to advocate for cleaner, greener, and healthier neighborhoods. 3. Equitable Development: provides legal services to organizations working to build community assets and improve access to affordable housing, reliable transportation, healthy food, living wage employment, and needed social services. Working with communities to draft Community Benefits Agreements with developers in their neighborhoods; providing workshops and educational opportunities; seeking policy change to improve opportunities for equitable development; and bringing stakeholders together to address community concerns. 4. Real Estate Services: provides representation to community-based organizations and nonprofit housing developers seeking to return vacant properties in Baltimore City to productive use through acquisition and rehabilitation, including tax sale foreclosure; direct purchase from owner; private donation; property consolidation and state property tax exemption applications; lien release requests; construction and financing documents; and legal representation on commercial and corporate governance matters. Community Law Center provides workshops and trainings throughout the year on topics that cover our major case types (liquor licenses, zoning, nonprofit formation and maintenance, community benefits agreements) and the needs of our clients (nonprofit budgeting and financial statements, leases and contracts). CLC brings together citizens, government officials, bureaucrats, foundations, regulators, nonprofits, universities and community organizations to engage them in making our neighborhoods great places to live, work and play.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I've been a board member for 3 years. In that time, I've consistently been impressed by the CLC; its mission, its leadership and its phenomenal staff are all equal components in its consistent success. The highlight of my year is our annual city-wide bus tour of representative clients. Again and again, I'm blown away by how much CLC has helped community groups throughout Baltimore be it a greening project or the abatement of a nuisance. I'm proud to be a small part of such a worthwhile organization.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you tell others about this organization?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am an attorney in private practice who takes cases from the CLC on a pro bono basis. I am proud to work with such a great organization to provide much needed legal services to community associations.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

The Community Law Center recently helped a neighborhood organization in Baltimore City to reclaim an abandoned city park and to secure follow -through of promised funding for a basketball court and playground equipment. Neighborhood residents strongly supported the project and are delighted. Community Law Center delivers significant legal help to many area non-profits in a very cost effective way.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

The Community Law Center provides a unique service in the Baltimore region. The Community Law Center represents organizationals (not individuals) on a reduced fee or pro bono basis, providing legal services on a wide range of legal issues through its staff attorneys and through a large network of volunteer attorneys. As the Board Chair, I am well positioned to evaluate how the organization is run and believe it to be extremely efficient. Money donated to the Community Law Center is well spent and will directly impact the organization's programs and help its clients.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Community Law Center provides legal assistance to non-profit community organizations throughout Maryland. The passion and commitment of Community Law Center staff and its clients turns houses into homes, empty lots into gardens and playgrounds and addresses into communities.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

The Book Thing was able to move from renting a 950 sf. basement to buying a 7000 sf. warehouse. What would've cost days of research and thousands of dollars ended up costing $100(?) and a few hours. The CLC lets nonprofits better fulfill their missions by providing the expertise that so few grassroots organizations have.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2005

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I am a retired attorney. For 40 years I represented persons and organizations that could not afford to employ an attorney. I have known the Community Law Center from its creation by Anne Blumenberg almost 30 years ago. It was and is unique; representing organizations rather than individuals. The CLC led the battle against drugs and liquor outlets in poor neighborhoods, CLC marshaled forces to restrict advertising of alcohol in residential neighborhoods, CLC led the battle in courts and the legislature to remove lead paint from homes and created the now nationally renowned Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. Most recently the CLC helped to create an ngo to aid juvenile offenders for whom I am an advisory board member. Their publications taught the novice executive director and board members how to form and govern an ngo. I have been involved with the CLC as a board member, as a mentor of new attorneys and as a client. It is a very good law office with excellent administration and very good lawyers. Lawyers want to work at and with the CLC. It has no trouble recruiting accomplished attorneys in private practice to accept cases without charging a fee. The CLC is a respected voice in the community, the City Council and the State Legislature. Anne Blumenberg has retired. Kristine Dunkerton has succeeded her. The staff and board have increased and strengthened.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a fourth generation Baltimorean, and I know that Community Law Center's contributions to my City over the past 25 years have been vital to every community revitalization effort in that time. I have worked at the Community Law Center for the past six years, and am amazed at the dedication of the staff attorneys to the communities they serve. Every neighborhood needs the services Community Law Center provides!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

As an annual donor to Community Law Center, I have been impressed to witness the positive impact they have on Baltimore's neighborhoods as well as nonprofits all over Maryland. On many occasions, if it were not for Community Law Center, neighborhoods would be unrepresented and not have the support necessary to follow through with the improvements and initiatives they have undertaken. It is so important for communities to have a strong advocate in Community Law Center, especially when other private and governmental resources are abandoning those that need it most.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful?