Edgar Cahn, PhD, JD


Distinguished Professor of Law, UDC School of Law. CEO, TimeBanks USA, Ashoka Fellow. Co-Founder (with late wife, Jean Camper Cahn) the National Legal Services program as part of the War on Poverty, the Antioch School of Law (now the UDC School of Law). Cahn is regarded as a founder of poverty law, a pioneer in creating clinical legal education, the founder of a global TimeBanking movement, and a social justice innovator undertaking to incorporate system change in legal education and inject co-production into service delivery and community development.


Time Dollars and TimeBanking: This is a unique tax-exempt local currency now utilized in 40 states and 37 nations to generate mutual exchange and civic engagement needed to address major social problems. TimeBanking provides a new medium of exchange to link untapped capacity to unmet needs and to rebuild the Core Economy of family, neighborhood, community and civil society.

Co-Production: As a framework for system change, Cahn has reframed CoProduction utilizing TimeBanking to specify the elements involved in transforming clients from passive consumers to active co-producers of outcomes.

Time Dollar Youth Court: A teen court authorized by the DC Superior Court that handled more than fifty percent of non-violent crimes by teenagers in the District of Columbia. It reduced recidivism below ten percent by empowering a teen jury (earning time credits) to impose sentences on first offenders. (Refunding is being sought to revive it.)

National Homecomers Academy: Created by a collaborative process that brought experts and former inmates together, the National Homecomers’ Academy incorporates a vision of reentry that enables homecomers to redefine themselves as community builders on a journey of service and learning. Today, homecomers associated with the Academy provide safe passage across gang territories in Washington D.C.'s most troubled neighborhoods.

CareBanks: As an Ashoka Fellow, Cahn pioneered Carebanks as an adaptation of TimeBanking to provide a form of long term care insurance with premiums paid in Time Dollars earned helping others. Different versions are creating the informal care system so essential to avoiding nursing home institutionalization.

Racial Justice initiative: Seeking to dismantle structural racism in juvenile justice and child welfare, Cahn formulated a novel legal theory and strategy designed to give rise to a legally enforceable obligation for officials to use validated, less expensive alternatives when present practice perpetuates racial disparities. Public Notice Hearings are in use to contrast present practice with alternatives that work giving rise to pressures from multiple sources to compel the use of knowledge.