Washington Attorneys Assisting Community Organizations (WAACO) Microenterprise Clinic
What is the WAACO Microenterprise Clinic?
- WAACO connects nonprofit organizations and low-income microenterprise entrepreneurs with volunteer attorneys who assist them on business legal matters. WAACO also provides legal trainings to attorneys and the nonprofit community on topics related to nonprofits and microenterprise businesses.
- WAACO hosts free microenterprise legal clinics in two locations -- Seattle and Federal Way. These clinics are offered in partnership with Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (WA C.A.S.H.) and Start Zone, both of which provide hands-on education, support and access to capital needed to launch and manage successful small enterprises. Both of these organizations focus on working with entrepreneurs who are low-income, women and/or from minority populations.
- WAACO volunteer attorneys and law students meet with low-income microenterprise entrepreneurs to spot legal issues and counsel them with respect to their microenterprise business venture. Microenterprise entrepreneurs may qualify for "extended legal services" beyond the clinical consultation, if the attorney determines the venture is ready for legal representation.
How does the program work?
- The clinic only serves WA CASH and Start Zone clients who are referred by WA CASH and Start Zone staff. This means that every client who comes to the clinic has already received mentoring, resources and support from experts in microenterprise business and has identified legal issues he/she needs help with.
- Volunteer lawyers and law students meet with clients for 45 minutes to an hour. The law student is responsible to take detailed notes so that he/she can draft a summary of the advice the attorney gives and a plan of action for the client to take with him/her after the clinic.
- The clinic at WA CASH which is located in Seattle is offered the first two Tuesday of every month from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and the clinic at Start Zone which is located at Highline Community College in Federal Way is offered the first Tuesday of every other month.
Why should students get involved?
- It is satisfying to know that you are helping microentrepreneurs who otherwise may not be able to get legal assistance and access to resources and who will ultimately run a success local business.
- You will learn legal practice skills like client interviewing, legal analysis, and written communication. You will also learn about various legal areas of business law including contracts, business formation, and intellectual property.
- The volunteer lawyers work in a variety of settings ranging from the largest law firms in Seattle to mid-size firms to solo practitioners. You will have an opportunity to network with transactional lawyers and work side by side with them.
What kind of a commitment do you need to make to be involved?
Law students must attend a 4 hour Microenterprise 101 training on October 3rd from 8:00-12 and volunteer for at least one clinic throughout the year (which runs from October through June).
How do I apply?
- You can submit a resume and cover letter to Diana Singleton, director of the Access to Justice Institute, at email@example.com by Friday, September 13th .
- Applicants will be notified by September 20th so they know whether they should attend the October 3rd training.
What training is offered?
- Students must attend a 4 hour Microenterprise 101 training on October 3, 2013 taught by two local attorneys. This training is geared for both volunteer attorneys and law students.
- Topics in the seminar will include business start-up, including formation and choice of entity; customer relations including business contracts; employment, including employee vs. independent contractor issues, employment regulations; taxes, and I-9 compliance; intellectual property, including trademark, and patents; nondisclosure and noncompete agreements.
Who do I contact for more information?
- For any questions, please contact Diana Singleton, director of the Access to Justice Institute, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-398-4168.