Professor Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Creating critical mass by educating the public about real estate in order to save communities from abandonment and neglect.
Through collaborations with existing organisations, law students, and volunteer lawyers, 10CORE® maximises those relationships and provides the public with substantive information about real estate issues.
The “public” is broadly defined to include those most impacted by the real estate pandemic (including the homeless, tenants, homeowners, the foreclosed or homeowners who have lost their houses, nonprofit developers) and others globally who seek to acquire property rights.
Specifically, 10CORE operates on two levels. First, there is a parent organisation that establishes policies and obtains funding for the organisation. Second, it ultimately works through student chapters at law schools who operate through the following three committees:
Students and lawyers write articles for the public about compelling issues. Ultimately, with funding, 10CORE hopes to launch a web site.
Students, lawyers and other professionals, as reflected in more detail below, devise Plans for the public and present well researched material through scheduled town-hall gatherings.
With the expectation that articles will soon be published, 10CORE also seeks to help close the digital divide by collaborating with companies to donate computers to the very communities 10CORE serves.
1. Can you briefly describe the innovation, in terms of the problem(s) it tries to solve and why is it necessary?
Through programming designed to educate the public, the organisation ultimately seeks to guarantee that the rule of law is fairly applied (particularly since real estate law and property rights profoundly impact the public’s lives).
The position is best articulated in an excerpt from an article written by Brian Z. Tamanah entitled “A Concise Guide to the Rule of Law:”
The rule of law, at its core, requires that government officials and citizens are bound by and act consistent with the law. This basic requirement entails a set of minimal characteristics: law must be set forth in advance (be prospective), be made public, be general, be clear, be stable and certain, and be applied to everyone according to its terms.
10CORE’s premise is that if people are ignorant either because they are unaware or lack access to representation, they can’t act in accordance with laws or benefit from them. Indeed, if these “minimal characteristics” are missing, laws will never be fairly applied which in this context means people never gain access to, are denied, or completely lose property rights.
2. What makes your innovation unique?
10CORE is unique for five reasons:
1. Organisational Structure
10CORE operates through three committees (Scholarship, Educational Outreach and Computer Donations) with clear goals, thereby making implementation simple and efficient yet flexible depending upon the public’s needs.
2. Mode of Communicating with the Public
10CORE is designed to serve the public. As a result, particularly for the Educational Outreach committee, before presentations are given, the Team meets with the audience to tailor the programming to meet its specific needs (which culminates with the creation of a Plan).
Accordingly, if the group primarily consists of homeowners facing foreclosure (or the threat of losing their assets), the presentation provides substance (which concentrates on basic and relevant legal concepts related to the larger issue) and access to professionals who can help the audience solve their problems. If the critical mass has other challenges, the Plan changes.
3. Substantive Content
As reflected above, the content of the material is never generic. Rather, supervised students work with faculty and lawyers who are experts in their fields or other relevant professionals.
4. Real Estate Law: Short and Long Term Impact(s) Upon Individuals and Communities
In the short run, 10CORE empowers families by providing them with basic information about real estate issues so they can, in some cases, save their most valued asset. In the long run, by helping families (who are encouraged to share the wealth of knowledge with other families and friends), the larger community is impacted. Notably, 10CORE has hopefully had a multiplier effect by enhancing the efforts of other organisations, thereby saving at least one community (at a time) from extinction through abondment and neglect.
In the short run, student volunteers recognise the significance of pro bono service, thereby creating a generation of lawyers who will help fill the gap (in the face of fewer resources being available to serve the underserved). Likewise, because of 10CORE’s organisational structure, lawyers have an opportunity to serve the public in conjunction with their law practices because the Committees clearly define their roles.
5. General Impact: Instills Public Interest and Confidence in the Rule of Law
Ultimately, 10CORE can work in more developed countries like the United States or in other countries where the rule of law is not as firmly established. In either case, if the underserved do not have access or are unaware of their rights, this organisation is needed to establish collaborations to reach them.
3. What triggered the development of the innovation?
The real estate pandemic within the United States triggered the need for 10CORE. Although laws exist, the homeless and poor, in particular, often fail to get the same benefits because they are unaware of their rights. Thus, while laws exist, and information is available, 10CORE’S unique placement in academic environments provides it with the opportunity to reach people.
Likewise, although the real estate crisis is not as severe globally, because having housing is essential to our existence, this issue is relevant across the globe.
4. Which persons and organisations were involved in the development and what role did they play?
Florise R. Neville-Ewell, a law professor and real estate lawyer, established the Law Society. For the last twenty eight years in practice, she has worked on matters involving victims of real estate fraud and non-profit developers building affordable housing within devastated inner-cities.
For the last seventeen years, in conjunction with her practice and career as an academic, she has also been dedicated to writing and speaking (on a pro bono basis) to groups on the local and national levels about real estate issues.
10CORE is an outgrowth of student interest in getting involved in these pro bono activities because of their interest in serving the community.
5. What kind of resistance have you encountered and how have you overcome it?
The organisation has experienced resistance from organisations who initially misinterpret its purpose. Once organisations realise that 10CORE is not reinventing the wheel or trying to compete with existing bar associations or other organisations who are already engaged in assisting the public, the resistance turns into collaboration.
However, please be advised that one reason why other organisations might ultimately collaborate with 10CORE once its purpose is understood is because of the unique thorough approach that it uses to provide information to the public.
In essence, 10CORE has attempted to raise the bar and expand the bar (by creating a model designed to get more lawyers and prospective lawyers involved).
In addition, although it has not been raised directly, it is also important to note that 10CORE’s existence does not undermine lawyers. To the contrary, people become empowered after getting information about legal issues and are then more inclined to seek counsel.
6. How did you make the goals realistic and attainable, and when will quick wins be available?
As indicated above in the initial Summary, the organisation functions through law school chapters who are responsible for reaching specific sub-goals associated with the following three committees:
2. Educational Outreach; and
3. Computer Donations
Although the ultimate goal is to charter law school chapters globally, the pilot chapter is currently at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan.
7. Will the innovation affect other organisations in the chain and if that is the case, how will it affect them?
Yes. 10CORE enhances other organisations because as structured it helps to expand the number of volunteers available to service the public. Through collaborations with organisations and volunteers, it strategically combines organisations to get projects done.
For example, 10CORE students are currently working on a project to provide information to the military at one of the bases in Michigan. During the first phase of this relationship, students prepared a survey to determine what the reservists versus active duty military members/families needed. Now, in conjunction with students, lawyers from outside (including a lawyer from the military, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Legal Aid) and faculty, the survey is being converted into a Plan (as referenced above in question two) for that military base.
8. How was the development funded and what were reasons for the financing organisation?
To date, the organisation has not had private investors. It is hoping for a designation as a 501(c)(3) organisation which means that it will be recognised by the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit.
Hopefully, if it receives that designation, it will attempt to obtain funds from donors who will get tax benefits from making donations.
Ideally, these funds will help pay for some of 10CORE’s largest expenses (which include establishing a state of the art website, traveling to establish chapters globally, and participating in conferences conducted by national organisations).
9. Can you name 3 to 5 characteristics of the innovation that are most essential to make it work?
This innovation thrives off of human (volunteer) labor and sacrifice on three levels. First, students are needed to provide the synergy by coordinating activities during the academic year for the public. As reflected above, this requires time to research topics and establish collaborations with the law school and broader community.
Second, because students are involved, it necessarily involves law professors who supervise activities.
Finally, it involves volunteer lawyers who work on a pro bono basis to help successfully implement tasks reflected within the three Committees (namely, Scholarship, Educational Outreach and Computer Donations).
10. How do you measure whether it is a successful innovation?
There are three measurements which correlate to the organisation’s short and long term goals:
SHORT TERM GOAL:
- Whether the public has received substantive information and personalised access to information and resources? This outcome is measured at the conclusion of every presentation via surveys.
LONG TERM GOALS:
- Whether as a result of programming, prepared through different media to capture the attention of as many people as possible, 10CORE is helping contribute to the development of more sustainable communities? This is a long term goal that can only be successfully implemented by expanding the organisation globally.
- Whether, by getting law students involved, the organisation is creating a generation of future lawyers inclined to provide pro bono service? This is also a long term goal that is effectively designed to create another layer of legal assistance for those who might not otherwise be aware of or pursue access to justice.
11. How many people or organisations benefit from this innovation now?
To date, 10CORE has completed programming within the following states: Michigan, Georgia and Maryland. It has also joint ventured with many national and local organisations including, without limitation:
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
ABA (American Bar Association)
HNBA (Hispanic National Bar Association)
NBA (National Bar Association)
Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank
Detroit Public Library (site for presentations)
Legal Aid and Defender Association (and other local nonprofits)
Military base (Selfridge Air Force Base)
It is difficult to determine how many people have been helped to date.
12. How many people or organisations could potentially benefit your innovation now and in the future? Can or will the innovation be used internationally and how do you overcome cultural
There are no limits on the number of people who can benefit from the organisation once it is expanded globally through law schools. Since legal issues will always arise, there will always be a need for 10CORE.
Cultural differences are neutralised by having volunteer lawyers from the immediate area involved so that differences are acknowledged and celebrated.
13. Can you quantify the financial benefits? Cost savings, additional income or otherwise.
In an ideal society, where the rule of law is effectively and efficiently administered, everyone who participates in the process also operates efficiently. If the rule of law is not administered fairly or if people are unaware of their rights and of its implications, the system malfunctions. This results in the rule of law being undermined.
Since 10CORE’s ultimate goal is to balance the scales with respect to the public’s property rights, the financial benefits are tremendous. People, including the homeless and those living on the fringes of society, will be positioned to gain access to information which will help them gain access to or save their home(s) or communities.
In some respects, this question cannot be answered because the absolute financial benefits cannot be quantified because of the multi-dimensional problem(s) posed by homelessness or helplessness because of losing a home.
10CORE recognises that it is only part of the solution in distressed communities/countries but it seeks to be an important part of THE solution.
14. Is the innovation financially viable and sustainable and if yes, how?
Ultimately, once 10CORE obtains funds to get established, there are potential sources of revenue; notably, the state of the art website will provide income (via advertising) to make the organisation sustainable.
15. Did you receive any recognition?
10CORE has received recognition from the ABA, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, an International Law Society blog, and the media. In addition, its founder, Florise R. Neville-Ewell, has received recognition and awards for her dedication to pro bono service.
16. What lessons did you learn along the way that could be useful to others?
To date, I’ve learned many lessons but two stand out:
- Pro bono activities are an essential part of being a lawyer. Although we are ultimately advocates for our clients in the private sector, as pro bono lawyers, we are public advocates dedicated to using our gifts for the common good.
- As 10CORE expands to work with different nationalities and ethnic groups, participants have learned that what unites us globally is our humanity. At its most basic level, every one across the United States and globe is entitled to have a safe, decent place to live.