The Legal Life of a Cooperative

We are thrilled to announce the details of our 2nd Biennial Cooperative Law Conference: The Legal Life of a Cooperative.

This year, our regional conference will bring national and regional experts to discuss the tools needed to advance the growth of a resilient, just, and local economy, from organizing through developing a successful coop. 

Take advantage of the chance to get inspired by some truly talented individuals. Book your ticket today to make sure your spot is reserved!


This day-long event will feature:

  • Basic and advanced sessions on cooperative formation and their legal structures, cooperative conversion as succession planning strategy, and funding and financing models.

  • Discussions about challenges and managing expectations between the various actors in the cooperative development process.

  • Q&A with experts and up to 5 OH CLE credits, professional responsibility included (5h of CLE credit have been requested with the Sup. Ct. of Ohio and pending approval).


Who should attend? This is a regional event with a focus on Ohio Law. Legal aid attorneys, co-op practitioners, private attorneys interested in collaborating with co-op advocates, accountants, cooperative worker-owners, business brokers, social investors, lending institutions, and other technical assistance providers seeking to better understand the workings of multi-stakeholder cooperatives. Advocates and cooperators from the bordering states are encouraged to register.

This experience will show how these professionals can spark the movement to empower community-based initiatives to be the drivers of change through cooperatives and social enterprises while building a regional network of practitioners.

The Legal Life of a Cooperative
Introducing The Legal Life of a Cooperative, a one-of-a-kind experience that brings together experienced business and community leaders and professionals. Explore this site to learn about the event schedule and register today!
Jun 05, 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Online Event

Our Schedule

Don’t Miss Out

8:30 AM

Opening Remarks

8:40AM - 9:40AM

Worker-Owned Coops 101

Speaker: Deborah Olson, esq.

  • Values, vision, mission, goals, and strategies

  • Cooperative principles and their legal implications

  • Rights and responsibilities of co-op membership

Speaker: Camille Kerr, esq.

  • Common legal structures and tax implications

  • Overview of common transactions and basic legal documents

9:40AM - 11AM

Simultaneous Session: Start-up Track

How to get started?
Speakers: Matt Currie, Eric Britton
This session will explore the following topics: organizing, planning, incubation and development timeline, legal documents, pro bono collaboration, community leadership, engagement and education, creating effective development team.

9:40AM - 11AM

Simultaneous Session: Conversion Track

Cooperative Conversion – Intro, timeliness & Process, Readiness Planning & Exploration
Speakers: Camille Kerr, esq., Deborah Olson, esq.
This session will explore the following topics: why plan, succession planning, benefits, what’s employee ownership, benefits of employee ownership. Conversion process & timeline, legal documents and financials, leadership development and employee education.

11:05AM - 11:35AM


Local and Regional Cooperative development – how did you do it?
Moderator: Aisha Sleiman, esq.
Panel: Lela Klein, esq., Co-op Dayton Executive Director, Kristen Barker, Co-op Cincy Executive Director

11:35AM - 12PM

Networking Groups

Enjoy this opportunity to chat with the experts in the room 

1:15PM - 2:00PM

Capital raising: Overview of traditional and new funding streams

Speaker: Sarah Kaplan, esq.

This session will give an overview of funding streams for cooperative development and common legal documents used to facilitate charitable gifts and grants, program related investment, New Markets Tax Credits, Direct Public Offering, Opportunity Funds, SBA loans, and an introduction to alternative equity models.

2:05PM - 2:55PM

Capital Raising: Securities & Employee-owner capital, outside and equity financing

Speaker: Camille Kerr, esq.
This session will explore the intricacies of security registrations, exemptions, aspects of common and alternative equity models in cooperative development.

3PM - 3:30PM

Implications of capital raising on governance, board formation, and democratic management

Speakers: Camille Kerr, esq.
This session will explore the impacts of capital stack (financing, employee-owner capital, outside financing, supporter share) on board formation and democratic governance.

3:30PM - 4:15PM

Q&A Panel

Moderator: Eric Britton
Panel: Lela Klein, Camille Kerr, Brandon E. Dobbyns

4:25PM - 5:25PM

Professional Responsibility

Legal ethics and transactional legal services: joint representation, board participation, and other common issues
Speaker: John Ruffolo, esq.
The purpose of this presentation is to help clarify the responsibility of representing unincorporated community groups, representing sister organizations, and understanding potential issues resulting from attorney representation and service in nonprofit board.

Our Speakers

Get to Know Them


Lela Klein

Attorney. Co-op Dayton Executive Director

Aisha sleiman.jpg

Aisha Sleiman

Staff Attorney & Joseph R. Tefalski Fellow, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.


Camille Kerr

Attorney. Upside Down Consulting Founder and Principal


Matthew Currie

Managing Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., Adjunct Professor of Law, UD School of Law

Amaha sellasie.jpg

Amaha Sellassie

Gem City Market Board President


Sarah Kaplan

Community Capital and Co-op Attorney


John Ruffolo

Attorney, Ruffolo Stone & Stone

jackie photo.jpg

Jackie R. Radebaugh

Staff Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.


Brandon E. Dobyns

Attorney, Taft Law


Eric Britton

Partner, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP


Deborah G. Olson



Committed to Community Resiliency

SELC_HorizontalLogo_colour_CMYK(for prin

Sustainable Economies Law Center cultivates a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. We provide essential legal tools - education, research, advice, and advocacy - so communities everywhere can develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs, and other vital aspects of a thriving community.


The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives comprehensively integrates the teaching, research and Extension programs of the College. The Center creates and extends knowledge to emerging and existing cooperatives in Ohio and beyond.

Alliance of Ohio Legal Aids 

The Alliance of Ohio Legal Aids is a membership consortium of Ohio legal aid organizations. As part of the Alliance, the Ohio Training Advisory Committee (OTAC) provides training coordination and support to staff at Ohio legal aid programs

Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) is a non-profit regional law firm that provides high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.

The Ohio Access to Justice Foundation is committed to improving access to justice and ensuring that legal aid societies and other resources, programs, and services address the unmet civil legal needs of low-income and under-served Ohioans. Neighborhood Stabilization grants are supported by the Foundation in an effort to promote and grow community economic development throughout Ohio.

Get in Touch

Professor Lecturing on Stage

©2020 by The Legal Life of a Cooperative. Proudly created with