Legal Basics for Forming Communities

5-Week Online Course | Resumes 2023

Learn about the different types of legal structures, buy in and buy out provisions, dispute resolution, zoning and land use, and decision-making.

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Course description

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 Pauling 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 3 weeks after the last class. 

Who this course is for

  • founders of community
  • people starting community
  • community treasurers
  • people buying land for community
  • people buying out / taking over a community

What you’ll learn

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

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 Pauling Esq. to find out more about his services and clients.

Course schedule

  • 1st Class – September 14, 2022
  • 2nd Class – September 21, 2022
  • 3rd Class – September 28, 2022
  • 4th Class – October 5, 2022
  • 5th Class – October 12, 2022

All Legal Basics for Forming Communities classes are on Wednesdays from:

  • Pacific: 12:30-2:30m
  • Mountain: 1:30-3:30pm
  • Central: 2:30-4:30pm
  • Eastern: 3:30-5:30pm

Testimonials

Karen Maleski

“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!”

Emily Abel

“This class overed 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!”

Don Hall

“As someone who is interested in starting an intentional community but has no background in real estate, finance, or law, I found it extremely helpful to get a thorough overview of these topics. Event though I still can’t claim to have mastered all of the details (many of which are context and site-specific), I now know what issues I need to consider and how to find the answers I need.”

Kathryn JohnstonC

“This class is a very good starting point in educating oneself on the topic of legal basics of starting community. It covers the foundational material of the subject and helps you to investigate certain big questions and subjects at the beginning of starting this big endeavor.”

Course fee

  • Early bird discount through August 28, 2022: $199
  • Regular price: $299

Become a member learner

You get several benefits, including 20% off all our online courses, and access to our Member Library with hundreds of videos, guides, policies and templates.

Sign up for membership

Financial support

You can apply for a scholarship if you need financial support to attend one of our courses. We encourage those with low-income and from marginalized groups to apply. We’re committed to ensuring everyone has access to intentional community learning opportunities.

Apply for a scholarship

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

Join the wait list

2023 Course Waiting List

Thank you for your interest in learning more about how to join, start, and grow intentional community. Please complete the form below to stay in the loop on our latest course offerings.