INCUBATOR CONSORTIUM’S 4TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Access to Justice: Incubators, Residencies, Apprenticeships and Non-profit Law Firms
On March 16-18, 2017, Texas A&M School of Law hosted this conference designed for people who are already involved in incubator or other post graduate programs for solo, small firm, and non-profit practitioners, as well as for those who want to know more about how these programs work and how they contribute to enhancing social justice through improved access to law.
Those in attendance learned about the continued growth of post- graduate law programs and the new wave of affordable legal services for groups without access to legal resources. Along with the basics of creating and implementing incubator programs and non-profit law firms, the conference addressed, among other topics, the impact on law school curricular reform; collaboration between bench, bar and academics; technology and delivery of legal services; evolution of lawyering role models; and access to justice for low and moderate means clients.
On October 14, 2016, the renewed Maryland Access to Justice Commission and the Maryland State Bar Association Section on the Delivery of Legal Services presented a statewide conference on how to build an effective “limited scope” practice in Maryland at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. New court rules in the state now allow for limited appearances in court, making it possible to develop a limited scope practice in the state. Experiences in other states suggest that having a limited scope practice is a win-win proposition, providing attorneys with a new financially viable business model and allowing many more moderate-income and working poor clients that otherwise could not afford an attorney, effective access to justice. Private, legal services and pro-bono attorneys were invited to attend. The conference was practical, with a focus on the nuts and bolts of building an effective limited scope practice in Maryland.
Lawyers providing personal legal services cover a wide spectrum. They practice out of urban high rises, strip mall storefronts and small town offices across from the county courthouses. Some are the only game in town and provide a broad general practice. Others own a narrow niche and are recognized as the “go-to lawyer” for their issues. They are all subject to changes beyond their control – the erosion of the middle class, the ubiquitous use of technology in everyday life and competition from entities that provide legal products. The 20th Century model of providing legal services is in question with lawyers facing both pressures and opportunities to change. This conference looked at that business model, looked at the potential for change and set out a course to assure that legal services are vital moving forward.
This conference, which took place August 14-15 in Denver, focused on pivoting practitioners into 21st Century problem-solvers by enhancing engagement and exploring better client-centric compensation methods and innovative delivery models.
- ABA Legal Access Job Corps Task Force
- ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services
- Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS)