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The racial reckoning during the summer of 2020 presented a renewed call to action for movement lawyers committed to collaborating with mobilized clients to advance racial equity and economic justice. During the last thirty years, community lawyering scholarship has made significant interventions into poverty lawyering and provides the theoretical framework for contemporary movement lawyers. Conceptually, community lawyering theory can be implemented in any practice area; however, prevailing narratives and models for community lawyering are based on group advocacy campaigns and, to a lesser extent, individual representation in dispute resolution. Transactional lawyers—who use private ordering to represent business entities as they form, transact, and manage risks—have been largely ignored in community lawyering scholarship, which focuses on governmental policy reform and rights acquisition. As a result, community lawyering scholarship remains inaccessible to many transactional lawyers, who are beginning to form a critical mass in antipoverty representations. Moreover, transactional lawyering theory does not meaningfully address how transactional lawyers can effectively advance social change. To fill this gap in theory and praxis, community lawyering theory needs to evolve to contemplate and respond to the nuances of transactional lawyering if transactional lawyers are to become movement lawyers advancing racial and economic justice. This Article provides the first textured description of “transactional community lawyering”—the intentional application of community lawyering theory into a distinctly transactional practice. It argues that community lawyering theory must evolve to (1) demand structural, not merely cultural, competency; (2) emphasize strategic alliance building to supplement the boundaries of subject matter expertise; and (3) contemplate the impact of digital technologies in expanding community lawyering beyond its traditional geographic limitations in order to integrate transactional lawyers as community lawyers. By so evolving, community lawyering theory would not only better inform antipoverty transactional lawyering but also prepare the next generation of diverse movement lawyers.

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Temple Law Review