By Carole Conn Director of Public Service Programs LRIS/ADR
Legal incubators have been increasing in recent years to address the negative consequences of two divergent realities: A widening legal justice gap for those of limited means and a shrinking network of full employment opportunities for newly minted lawyers who need practical training. While bringing the public and lawyers together for mutual benefit is the overarching framework of a legal incubator, it coincides with the essence of access to justice efforts at lawyer referral services and bar associations.
At the start of this year, BASF President Michael Tubach constituted the planning committee to implement a legal incubator initiative. By the end of September, the Community Law Practice Incubator (CLPI) launched with a four-day law practice boot camp. Sessions at the boot camp ranged from ethics to marketing to web design to client trust accounts. A court/law library tour day included observation in Judge Wiley’s Family Law courtroom at the San Francisco Superior Court and conversation in chambers with Judge Montali of the San Francisco Bankruptcy Court.
Drawing upon its broad low-fee legal services program to assist persons of modest means, LRIS will refer pre-screened clients for significantly reduced rate services to the incubator practitioners. In addition to the newly created CLPI, LRIS will also participate in the Bay Area Legal Incubator (BALI) coordinated through the Alameda County Bar Association which launched in January.
LRIS is naturally poised to be a strategic community partner for the incubator lawyer (and for any lawyer) not only as a source for screened, paying clients to build a practice, but also as a trustworthy resource when a client has a legal need outside a lawyer’s practice area. Given LRIS is inextricably woven into the fabric of legal resources serving the public good, the screening for legal agency referrals, pro bono services, legal clinics, and governmental resources will also benefit clients referred.
To learn more about the Community Law Practice Incubator, visit www.sfbar.org/clpi.