2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Nicholas Leonard

Nicholas Leonard

Name of Host Organization: Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
City, State: Detroit, Michigan
Issue area: Environmental Justice, Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects
Sponsors: Deere & Company; Lane & Waterman LLP; Schiff Hardin LLP

The Project

Nick provided pro bono transactional legal services to individuals, nonprofit corporations, and for-profit businesses engaged in urban agriculture in Detroit.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Due to economic downturn in recent decades, Detroit has a large proportion of abandoned properties. While Detroit has incentivized private redevelopment in some areas of high abandonment, it has yet to provide a systemized or viable redevelopment solution for some of its most depressed neighborhoods. Urban agriculture is a great and cost-effective urban revitalization tool, but is sadly underutilized in Detroit’s neighborhoods. Not only could urban farms provide Detroiters with a degree of autonomy regarding how their neighborhoods are redeveloped, they could also provide them with a much needed source of fresh food. Nicholas’ project will provide vital and sustainable legal assistance to Detroiters promoting urban agriculture.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Nick Leonard has:
• Helped dozens of urban growers set-up and structure a nonprofit corporation, cooperative corporation, or limited liability company
• Counseled urban growers on a variety of legal topics, including tax law, employment law, and local property maintenance law
• Participated in several public education events focused on teaching urban growers about the laws that may impact their urban farm or garden
• Authored both the Detroit Good Food Entrepreneur Legal Handbook and the Community Land Trust Bylaws Drafting Guide
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Nick Leonard plans to:
• Continue to work for the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center as a Staff Attorney
• Continue to manage the project dedicated to providing pro bono legal services to urban growers

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