Legal Basics for Forming Communities

5-Week Online Course | Starts Aug 25

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 that you don’t need to wade into the legalese alone.  Clifford Paulin Esq. 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.

Legal Basics for Forming Communities course image
Get the early bird discount through 8/22/21!

Community land trusts?! Oh my!

Yes, it is a little scary. No, you do not 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. 

In this 5-week online course you’ll learn how to translate the values and vision of your group into clear and cohesive agreements.  Along with a global learning community, you’ll explore the basic forms of collective land ownership, buy in and buy out formulas, dispute resolution protocols, the impact of planning and zoning regulations on your community, as well as look at a variety of legal concepts that impact community and land development.

Key Course Outcomes

  • Understand different forms of legal structures for holding land collectively
  • Know the pros and cons for different structures
  • Recognize the key aspects of buy in and buy out formulas and protocols
  • Examine different conflict resolution strategies
  • Determine how to evolve legal structures over time to meet changing group and social needs
  • Survey the basics of zoning and permitting and how they affect your community
  • Learn the basics of real estate transactions and how you can accomplish  them without a relator
  • Build skills to facilitate powerful conversations about group and individual values and how those affect your legal structure.
  • Study the basics of non-profits, co-ops, and other legal entities that can work with and within your community
  • Explore environmental laws (i.e. The Endangered Species Act) and how those potentially relate to your development
  • Recognize how your financing impacts your legal structure influences
  • Investigate the basics of security and tax implications for communities

Meet Your Instructor

Legal Basics for Forming Communities course instructor, Clifford Paulin

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 hime with a unique understanding of their needs and desires.

Clifford holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona, a Juris Doctorate and a Masters of Study in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School, a mediation certificate from the Center for Understanding in Conflict, and 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.

The Online Course Experience

Live Interactive Sessions

Each week will feature a 2-hour live class with the course instructor so you can learn in a dynamic setting and get your questions answered directly. Get ready for interactive presentations, group discussion, small cohort activities and personalized support. Plus, each week there will be bonus sessions with guest speakers and panelists.

Journey with a Cohort

Join participants from around the world who are embarking on creating community for better living and more connection. You’ll have opportunities to network with like-minds and develop a network of support to carry your community project forward. Welcome to your global community of communities.

Deep Learning

Participants will have access to a private online space to connect with the instructor and other students through a discussion forum. Each week new learning materials will be uploaded to the space, including videos, worksheets and articles. You’ll be able to watch previously recorded sessions and stay on track with your weekly assignments.

Loved by Community Builders

The online course experience with FIC was life changing for me. I finally got the information about intentional communities that I’d been searching for, plus I met people from around the world who are of like-minds. I feel that much closer to joining or building my dream community!

– Sarah Lynn

I am constantly impressed by the down-to-earth practicality of the FIC sessions combined with the philosophical questions that are so vital for us to explore. I’m grateful for the excellent planning and delivery of the sessions by skilled and inclusive presenters, who create a space that is both welcoming and invites participants to challenge existing ideas and world views. Well done and thank you FIC.

– Claire Ogden

What a beautiful gift to our intentional community builders and leaders! FIC’s programs provide a way for thinking and concerned people to collaborate for solutions to our multitude of global crises. Thank you FIC!

– Terri Garcia

Course Schedule

Live classes for the August course will take place each week alternating from noon-2pm and 4-6pm Eastern on Fridays.

You will also have access to three live Bonus Sessions on relevant topics with guest speakers and facilitators scheduled at various times throughout the weeks. Please view the calendar below. All classes and Bonus Session recordings are viewable afterwards.

Sample Bonus Session Topics:

  • Co-Buying Property to Start a Community
  • Legal Models for Intentional Communities
  • Intro to Community Land Trusts
  • Intro to Community Land Co-ops
  • Regenerative Real Estate

Course Registration


Legal Basics for Forming Communities

$299.00 $199.00

Learn how to navigate legal systems so your community can succeed, including zoning, ownership, membership structures, taxes and more.

Duration: 5 Weeks (3+ hours/week)

Get the early bird discount through 8/22/21. ($299 regular price)



Need financial support to attend a course?

Apply for a scholarship. Those with low-income and from marginalized groups are encouraged to apply. FIC is committed to ensuring everyone has access to intentional community learning opportunities.