New Article: “Developing Capabilities, Not Entrepreneurs: A New Theory for Community Economic Development”

New Article: Rashmi Dyal-Chand & James V. Rowan, Developing Capabilities, Not Entrepreneurs: A New Theory for Community Economic Development, 42 Hofstra L. Rev. 839 (2014).  Abstract below:

This Article presents a contemporary and compelling American context in which entrepreneurship is not a good solution. Despite the enormous potential that entrepreneurship seems to hold for community economic development, it has thus far failed as a framework for widespread and reliable local economic development and poverty alleviation. The reasons for this failure are grounded both in theory and empirical data. This Article takes up the theoretical question. It examines why entrepreneurship theory is a weak foundation for the work of community economic development practitioners. Arguing that the important work of these practitioners is best understood and measured using a theory grounded in poverty alleviation, this Article offers a modified version of the capabilities approach first developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. By relying on a theory that broadly conceptualizes poverty and social exclusion, community economic development practitioners can better evaluate the work that they are already doing. More importantly, the theory proposed here can and should guide practitioners to make straightforward changes with the potential for quite positive gains.

New Article: “Federalism and Municipal Innovation: Lessons from the Fight Against Vacant Properties”

New Article: Benton C. Martin, Federalism and Municipal Innovation: Lessons from the Fight Against Vacant Properties, 46 The Urban Lawyer 361 (2014).  Abstract below:

Cities possess a far greater ability to be trailblazers on a national scale than local officials may imagine. Realizing this, city advocates continue to call for renewed recognition by state and federal officials of the benefits of creative local problem-solving. The goal is admirable but warrants caution. The key to successful local initiatives lies not in woolgathering about cooperation with other levels of government but in identifying potential conflicts and using hard work and political savvy to build constituencies and head off objections. To demonstrate that point, this Article examines the legal status of local governments and recent efforts to regulate vacant property through land banking and registration ordinances.

Call-for-Papers: Law and Society Annual Conference 2015

Seattle_logo_250_tmThe Law and Society Annual Conference will be held on May 28-31, 2015 in Seattle and the call-for-papers deadline is Oct. 15, 2014.  More information can be found here.  

The conference usually has many poverty related papers/panels.  

Slides for Class – for those teaching from the Brodie et al. textbook.

Quick note: for those teaching poverty law from the Brodie et al. textbook, I am happy to share the powerpoint slides that I am using this semester with anyone who wants them; just send me an email.  -E.R. 

A New Reason to Question the Official Unemployment Rate –

A New Reason to Question the Official Unemployment Rate –

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges –

Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges –

Pilot Study Preliminary Report: “Got Clean Slate? New Study Suggests that Criminal Record Clearing May Increase Earnings”

Pilot Study Preliminary Report: Jeffrey Selbin & Justin McCrary, Got Clean Slate?  New Study Suggests that Criminal Record Clearing May Increase Earnings, SSRN Aug. 2014.  Abstract below: 

The more staggering impacts of the decades-long wars on crime and drugs are well-known. Almost seven million Americans – one in 35 adults – are incarcerated or under correctional supervision (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013). As many as one in four adult Americans has a criminal record, mostly for arrests and misdemeanors (NELP, 2011). By age 23, almost half of all African American men, more than a third of white men, and almost one in eight women have been arrested (Brame, et al., 2014). Arrest, conviction and incarceration records create collateral consequences that too often serve as a lifelong obstacle to employment, education, housing, public benefits and civic participation (National Institute of Justice, 2013).

Perhaps spurred by these disturbing trends, public defender offices, civil legal aid providers and law school clinics have established “clean slate” programs to help people avail themselves of criminal record clearing remedies. Studies consistently find that people with criminal records have dramatically reduced job prospects and income. However, until now we have had only anecdotal evidence that clean slate programs improve employment outcomes or earnings for people with criminal records. Gainful employment is critical to successful reentry for the tens of millions of Americans with a criminal record because it has the potential to reduce recidivism and related social and economic consequences for individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities.

Through a retrospective study of clients served by the East Bay Community Law Center’s Clean Slate Clinic, we analyzed the impact of obtaining criminal record remedies on their subsequent earnings. To our knowledge, this study is the first quantitative assessment of whether clean slate programs improve reported earnings. Through econometric techniques to control for the effects of changes in the larger economy on earnings, we can report two preliminary findings: 

(1) People with criminal records seek clean slate legal remedies after a prolonged period of declining earnings. This finding has implications for the delivery of clean slate legal services to people with criminal records, including targeting earlier intervention to help prevent deteriorating economic circumstances.

(2) Evidence suggests that the clean slate legal intervention stems the decline in earnings and may even boost earnings. It is too early to tell if the boost is significant and sustained, but halting the decline in earnings suggests that the intervention makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives and is a key component of an effective community reentry strategy.


New Article: “Reducing Inequality on the Cheap: When Legal Rule Design Should Incorporate Equity as Well as Efficiency”

New Article: Zachary Liscow, Reducing Inequality on the Cheap: When Legal Rule Design Should Incorporate Equity as Well as Efficiency, 123 Yale L.J. 2478 (2014).  Abstract below:

This Note develops a framework for understanding when policymakers should use equity-informed legal rules—rather than taxes—to redistribute. First, policymakers should choose the most efficient way to reduce income inequality, which may involve allocating legal entitlements to the poor, depending upon several factors described in the Note. Second, sometimes legal rules ought to account for non-income characteristics based upon which the tax system would be poorly equipped to redistribute.

New Article: “The Tension between Property Rights and Social and Economic Rights: A Case Study of India”

New Article: Namita Wahi, The Tension between Property Rights and Social and Economic Rights: A Case Study of IndiaSocial and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice (Helena Alviar et al. eds., Routledge, 2014 Forthcoming).  Abstract below:

In this paper, I explore the perceived tension in constitutional and human rights discourse between the right to property, regarded as a classic civil and political right, and socioeconomic rights such as the rights to food, housing, and health, through a review of Indian constitutional law. This tension arises because the enforcement of property rights, through judicial review, imposes severe restrictions on the fulfilment of socioeconomic needs of the poor. Moreover, social redistribution programmes, including land reform, that seek to improve access to resources amongst the beneficiaries necessarily involve alteration of existing property arrangements, which might be seen as violating justiciable constitutional property rights.

India is a unique case study for evaluating this tension because at the time of its adoption in 1950, the Indian Constitution constitutionalised both civil and political rights like the right to property and social and economic rights, but only made the former justiciable. However, according to the conventional political and scholarly narrative, judicial enforcement of the right to property during the period 1950-1978 resulted in the invalidation of many socioeconomic reforms. This led Parliament to amend the Constitution several times in order to nullify the effect of the judicial decisions and culminated in the Forty Fourth constitutional amendment in 1978, which changed the character of the property right from a justiciable to a non-justiciable right. In contrast, post 1978; the Court through its pronouncements on the “right to life” made non-justiciable socioeconomic rights, like the rights to food, livelihood, health and housing, justiciable.

Based on my review of the Indian experience, I conclude that broad generalizations about the differences and conflicts between property rights and socioeconomic rights are overstated and tend to come apart in the light of historical experience. Ultimately, it is the practices of individual judiciaries in particular periods of time and in particular social, political and economic contexts, both nationally and internationally, that influence the grant of concrete relief and enforcement of such relief in particular cases.


Call-for-Papers: “Applied Feminism and Work” — Univ. of Baltimore, Mar. 5-6, 2015.

Call-for-Papers: “Applied Feminism and Work” — Univ. of Baltimore, Mar. 5-6, 2015.  Deadline for submissions is Oct. 31, 2014.  The call and additional information can be found here.