Legal Basics for Forming Communities

5-Week Online Course | Starts October 25th

Learn about types of legal structures, buy in and buy out provisions, and zoning in the Legal Basics for Forming Communities course.

Course fee: $99-$249 USD

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Course description and syllabus

Again and again intentional communities fail because of legal barriers. Trying to create a different world while operating within the current one is daunting. The good news is you don’t need to wade into the legalese alone.

You don’t want to be the community that says let’s move in together and figure the details out later. Strong and responsive legal agreements within communities are key to both their long term success, and maintaining healthy relationships between community members.

Clifford Paulin Esq, your course instructor, has been advising communities on legal aspects of community living for 15 years. You can benefit from both his professional and personal experience of community during this unique course. In the Legal Basics for Forming Communities course, you’ll learn how to translate the values and vision of your group into clear and cohesive agreements from him. 

Live classes are hosted on Zoom. All classes are recorded and available on our learning platform within 24 hours after each class ends and through 30 days after the last class.

Classes and topics in the Legal Basics for Forming Communities syllabus include:

1st Class: Legal structures for community land holdings

  • different types of legal entities, like non-profits, co-ops and others, and pros and cons for different structures
  • how to recognize how your financing impacts your legal structure influences
  • how to investigate the basics of security and tax implications

2nd Class: Successful buy in/buy out provisions

  • key aspects of buy in and buy out formulas and protocols, and the pros and cons for different models
  • basics of real estate transactions, and how you can accomplish them without a realtor

3rd Class: Dispute resolution provisions

  • a general understanding of the different conflict resolution strategies
  • dispute resolution protocol
  • basics of governance structures for non-profits

4th Class: Zoning and land uses impact on community structure

  • a general understanding of environmental laws (i.e. The Endangered Species Act) and how those potentially relate to your development
  • how to survey the impact of planning and zoning regulations on your community

5th Class: Decision making structures

  • facilitate powerful conversations about group and individual values and how those affect your legal structure
  • how to translate the values and vision of your group into clear and cohesive agreements


Course schedule

  • 1st Class – October 25, 2023
  • 2nd Class – November 1, 2023
  • 3rd Class – November 8, 2023
  • 4th Class – November 15, 2023
  • 5th Class – November 22, 2023

All Legal Basics for Forming Communities classes are from 12:00-2:00pm Central on Wednesdays. View your local time here.

Your instructor

legal basics for intentional communities course instructor image

Clifford Paulin

Clifford Paulin Provides a full suite of legal, facilitation, and mediation services to individuals, businesses, communities, non-profits, and government entities. His extensive background in serving these organizations, as well as being part of them, provides him with a unique understanding of their needs and desires.
Clifford holds a:

  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona
  • Juris Doctorate and a Masters of Study in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School
  • mediation certificate from the Center for Understanding in Conflict
  • advanced facilitation training from Synectics LLC

Clifford’s legal practice has focused on transactional law, non-profit law, and community law since 2006. He also has extensive experience in mediation in both individual and group settings. He has facilitated strategic planning and other processes for groups in both the private and public sectors. Mr. Paulin is also a co-founder of The Oak Granary, a land-based environmental education non-profit in Potter Valley, California

Read See: Clifford Paulin Esq. to find out more about his services and clients.


“This course covered a comprehensive amount of ground. Clifford is a wonderful educator, not just his experience and expertise, but his sensibility to the bitter picture and also his foresightful cautions, all provide a great panoramic perspective. He also has a fabulous ability to provide for questions. And in answering them, he goes into the surrounding detail, and then event asks the questioner if that answered the question!”

-Karen Maleski

“This class covered many of the basic elements of legal stuff you need to be thing about if you seriously want to try to co-found an intentional community, or event if you’re considering joining an established community. Clifford pointed out many aspects of our society that make communal resource-sharing and living challenging, which felt both good and overwhelming – good, because it helps explain why so many people struggle and fail to create meaningful, functional intentional communities together, and overwhelming because it reminded me of what an uphill battle creating cooperative community culture typically is, and how hard this work is!”

-Emily Abel

The course is very dense in its information and gives you a good idea of the questions you should be asking and some of the kinds of answers you could have. Clifford is a quality teacher and attentive to working with the class.

-Clinton Parker

“This course is much more than a basic overview of legal structures for shared property ownership. It also offered in-depth instruction in how a group can align their values with their legal structure. In fact, it showed how you can avoid problems by clarifying values and goals *before* acquiring property.”

-Vanessa Van Wagner

The elements of an online course

Online learning platform

Once you register, you’ll get access to our learning area that includes:

  • your course schedule with zoom links
  • recommended books
  • a dedicated discussion forum to connect with your classmates
  • class slides and other course materials
  • class video recordings and Zoom chat feed (posted after class ends)

Live interactive sessions

Each week you join a 2-hour live class with the course instructor, where you learn in a group setting with:

  • interactive presentations
  • break out sessions
  • group discussions
  • the opportunity for questions and answers, and personalized support

Classes are recorded if you miss one.

Journey with a cohort

You’ll join participants from around the world how, like you, want to learn how to be better communitarians. Benefits include:

  • opportunities to connect with like-minded people
  • opportunities to share ideas and stories
  • a network of support to carry your community project forward


Legal Basics for Forming Communities Course

Starting From $99.00

(Price is per person)

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