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Law School Graduates Create Urban Farming Law

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill initiated upon the research of two graduates from Stanford Law School – Nicholas Reed and Juan Carlos Cancino. The law, known as the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act authorizes small scale urban farming in state counties.

Reed was interested in urban agriculture and wanted to begin independent research in the subject. Cancino, who graduated in 2008, four years earlier than Reed, took on the role of Alumni Mentor-in-Residence and the project was guided by Richard Ford, a professor of the law school who specialized in local government and law.

According to Reed, he felt there was a problem to solve “and at SLS we identified the problems around us and sought to resolve them.”

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It took Reed two years to finish his independent project on urban agriculture in Palo Alto, and while at his third year in Stanford Law School, he published his paper in the Stanford Law and Policy Review. Then with the help of Ford and Cancino, he turned his research into the bill, AB 551, which today, is law in California.

Reed and Cancino were involved in the San Francisco Greenhouse Project which advocates urban agricultural development and planning, they also joined San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, an organization supporting small-scale farming in cities.

Then they shared their findings with some Palo Alto residents and were invited by the state assembly in Sacramento to testify before both the assembly and the state senate. With positive responses from both houses, the two Stanford Law School graduates set to draft the actual bill.

Their experience shows what law students can achieve besides being partners at law firms.

Carcino said, “Don’t look at your time at law school as time away from the world … Try to seize the opportunity to try to change the local places [and your environment] for the better,” reported The Stanford Daily.

Reed is of similar mind. He said, “We often feel like the work we’re doing in academia will never see the light of day … I think students should bear in mind that they have an impact…”

Currently Cancino is a lawyer for the California Rural Legal Assistance, and Reed is the co-founder of Ravel Law, a start up for helping lawyers with legal research.

California Governonr’s Flag – Image Source – Wikimedia Commons

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