Legal Basics for Communities

5-Week Online Course | Starts April 9, 2024

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

Course fee: $100-$200 USD

Individual class fee: $20-$50 USD

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Classes in this course are suitable for:Community Newcomers | Community Seekers | Community Starters | Community Residents

Course description and syllabus

Again and again intentional communities disintegrate because their legal agreements did not reflect their values. 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.

Clifford Paulin Esq, your course instructor, has been advising groups on legal aspects of community for 15 years. More than just learning about the dry and confusing legal jargon, he will advise you on how to take your community vision and be empowered to manifest it.

Many times, communities create legal structures first before deciding what their values are, locking them into conflict down the road. In the Legal Basics for Communities course, you’ll learn from Clifford how to translate the values and vision of your group into clear and cohesive agreements. After all, 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 not only to be legally sound, but also to guarantee long-term success and healthy relationships between community members.  

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.


Individual classes starting at US $20

April 9: Land Holding Options for Intentional Communities

  • different types of legal entities, including tenancy in common, LLC, non-profits, co-ops and more
  • the pros and cons for different structures
  • how financing impacts your legal structure influences
  • the basics of security and tax implications

April 16: Developing Community Values & Agreements

  • what values underlie your agreements
  • how to create buy-in for your agreements
  • which agreements are most critical

April 23: Planning, Zoning & Permitting your Community

  • basics of what land use is and how to examine your local land use regulations
  • overview of environmental and other laws and how those potentially relate to your development
  • how to work with your local planning agencies

April 30: Financing & Buying Community Land

  • options for buying land
  • implications of financing on legal structure choices
  • examining different real estate options with financing in mind

May 7: Starting your Community Business

  • overview of various legal structures
  • how to finance launch
  • legal requirements for different businesses

All Legal Basics for Communities classes are held on Tuesdays from 10am-12pm Pacific / 11am-1pm Mountain / 12-2pm Central / 1-3pm Eastern. You can view your local time here.

May 14:Q&A Session

  • Ask any additional questions
  • Get personalized help
  • Networking

The Q&A session is optional and will take place from 10-11am Pacific / 11am-12pm Mountain / 12-1pm Central / 1-2pm Eastern. You must register for the full course to attend the Q&A session.

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

Not only is Clifford an experienced attorney, but a true communitarian with knowledge and experience living in IC and working with IC’s for many years. He’s one of a kind!

-David Fisher

“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

Course registration

Legal Basics for Communities Course

Starting From $100.00

(Price is per person)

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Online learning platform

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

  • class slides and other course materials
  • class video recordings, audio files, and transcripts for learning on the go
  • recommended books with access to course participant discount
  • a dedicated discussion forum to connect with your classmates

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, and you will have 30 days after the last class to view recordings.

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