Community and Economic Development Law Clinic

CEDLC student attorneys work with community based organizations in Maryland and the District of Columbia to promote economic development. Using the tools of corporate, commercial, and transactional law, they create and retain assets for greatly underserved communities in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

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Our Focus

Our clients are non-profits, small business owners, tenants' associations, and other groups who hold the line in under-served communities, and whose concerns must be given priority if community residents are not to be displaced by locally sourced juice bars and designer lofts. Our students work with clients to determine the appropriate business entity for their mission and needs, to execute and file corporate documents and applications for state and federal tax exemptions, to apply for grants, to negotiate contracts and memoranda of understanding, and to advocate before agencies and legislatures.

Meet our Faculty and Staff


Susan Bennett

Professor of Law, Co-Director of the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic


Susan D. Bennett founded and directs the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, through which students provide transactional representation to non –profit organizations, small businesses, and affordable housing cooperatives in under-served neighborhoods in D.C. and the metro area. She held the position of Director of Clinical Programs for the Washington College of Law from 2003 to 2006. Before coming to WCL, she specialized in housing and consumer litigation at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau.

Brenda Smith

Professor of Law, Co-director of the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic


Brenda V. Smith is a professor at the Washington College of Law at American University where she teaches in the Community Economic Development Law Clinic. Professor Smith is also the Project Director for the United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections Cooperative Agreement on Addressing Prison Rape.