Reinventing Law for the Commons

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This Strategy Memorandum is a first attempt to survey the more significant realms of commons-based legal innovation occurring today.  Besides providing a rough inventory of more than sixty projects and theaters of legal innovation, David Bollier proposes that these disparate initiatives be conceptualized as a new strategic framing, “Law for the Commons.”

The essential goal of this body of law is to develop novel legal forms that can incubate, maintain and defend commons. A related goal is to use the banner of “Commons Law” to help federate isolated players in this sprawling, emergent realm (commons-based social and political struggle) to strengthen their collective impact through the use of law.  If we’re serious about catalyzing systemic change, we need to start articulating a coherent vision and provide specific legal and policy mechanisms for achieving it.

The Strategy Memo is presented in a wiki format for easy access here.


Product details
Date of Publication
September 2015
Commons Strategies Group
Number of Pages
Table of contents

I. The Purpose of this Memo

II. Legal Innovations in Beating the Bounds: Nine Promising Fields of Action

  1. Indigenous Commons
  2. Subsistence Commons in the Global South
  3. Digital Commons
  4. Stakeholder Trusts
  5. Co-operative Law
  6. Urban Commons
  7. Localism
  8. New Organizational Forms
  9. Re-imagining State Policy to Empower Commons

III. The Strategic Value of Developing Law for the Commons

IV. Next Steps

Appendix A: Some Notable People Developing Law for the Commons

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