As web-based digital companies connect more and more urban consumers and sharers directly to individual providers of services ranging from transportation to lodging, they raise complicated regulatory questions. On April 24, the Urban Law Center explored these questions at its annual symposium, “Sharing Economy, Sharing City: Urban Law and the New Economy.”
“Finding the right balance between fostering innovation and protecting consumer welfare is challenging,” said Professor Nestor Davidson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Faculty Director of the Urban Law Center. “It is important for companies to understand that there are legitimate grounds for regulation and for regulators to be clear about what they’re trying to accomplish.”
The conference tackled the various legal and regulatory approaches to technological gray areas in hopes of yielding new problem-solving opportunities.
“Today’s lawyers are the first to advise, litigate, legislate, and advocate in an increasingly urbanized world of high-speed, digital transactions. They are already working hand-in-hand with non-lawyers to tackle urban legal and regulatory issues related to sharing-economy activity,” Nisha Mistry, Director of the Urban Law Center, said. “Their work has a real impact on urban communities and local and state economies.”
The symposium’s keynote address was provided by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He announced that he and New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter planned to collaborate with the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic, Cardozo Law School’s Tech Startup Clinic, and Fordham Law’s Center on Law and Information Policy to establish a regular venue for interaction between city and state legal authorities and technology startups.
“This collaboration will not only help new companies navigate our regulatory system, but it will also help provide insight to the State and the City about outdated or overly cumbersome rules, as well as about trends and needs in this rapidly growing sector of New York’s economy,” Schneiderman said. “With this announcement, New York has become the only state and city with start-up friendly clinics, backed up with authoritative legal expertise. Startups will be able to more accurately map out the laws and regulations they must respect when they seek to do business in New York.”
The symposium was co-sponsored by the Fordham Urban Law Journal, Fordham Urban Studies, Center for Digital Transformation, Fordham Housing Advocates Project, and Fordham Habitat for Humanity.