This article originally appeared on the Case Western Reserve University School of Law website.
Community-based news media organizations like The Cleveland Observer (TCO) provide critical news content to local communities with a focus on grassroots newsgathering. The students enrolled in the Community Development Clinic (CDC) at Case Western Reserve University School of Law have worked closely with the leadership of TCO this year to establish it as a nonprofit corporation and seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Originally called the Ward 7 Observer when it started out in 2018, TCO re-launched in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic and racial unrest as a digital news and monthly print publication. The organization serves several communities in Cleveland, including AsiaTown, Fairfax, Hough, Midtown, St. Clair Superior, Central, Downtown, East Cleveland, Lee-Harvard, Broadway Slavic Village, University Circle, and Glenville.
Recently, TCO’s CDC team, consisting of third-year law students Sierra Lipscomb, Michael Bishop, and Jacob Gialamas, under the supervision of Professor Matthew Rossman, led TCO’s organizational board meeting over Zoom. The meeting provided an opportunity for TCO to convene its prospective Board of Directors, elect officers, and carry out other important business such as adopting its bylaws, which the CDC team prepared.
The CDC team members served as temporary chairs and secretary of the meeting and guided the organization through its agenda, which the team also drafted. This legal work is critical to ensuring that TCO has a strong foundation as it looks ahead to seeking tax-exempt status in the near future.
The CDC is one of nine clinics under the umbrella of the law school’s Milton and Charlotte Kramer Law Clinic. Every law student undertakes a 3L capstone in one of the clinics or a semester-long externship. Based on the work of the CDC and the other clinics, preLaw magazine ranked Case Western Reserve University School of Law 6th best law school in the nation in practical training.
As of May 11, The Cleveland Observer is officially a 501c3 organization, thanks to the Community Development Clinic (CDC) at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.