The Low Bono and Solo Initiative

Committed to its mission to educate outstanding lawyers to be leaders for a just and humane world, the School of Law is pleased to launch the Low Bono and Solo Initiative which aims to assist its alumni in starting their own solo practices or small firms, including those setting up their own practices with the intent of serving the moderate means client community. 

Through the Initiative, alumni can benefit from a series of CLEs and workshops and the Low Bono Incubator Program.  For those interested in taking advantage of opportunities the initiative offers, please also check out the resources and ways to connect with the community below. For more information about the Low Bono and Solo Initiative, please contact Diana Singleton, Director at the Access to Justice Institute, at singletd@seattleu.edu or 206-398-4168. 

The Low Bono Incubator Program

The Low Bono Incubator Program, a part of the Low Bono and Solo Initiative, provides training, guidance, and resources to help new lawyers launch and maintain a solo or small firm practice designed to serve the moderate means client community. Through the Incubator Program, four new alumni will have the opportunity to "incubate" a law practice for 12 months for the purposes of creating a sustainable, successful low bono law practice.   A low bono practice is built around serving clients of moderate means by offering reduced-fee legal services.  

Through the program, each Incubator Attorney will benefit from the following: 

  • A small stipend of $3000 to help cover costs of living and initial costs of launching a practice  

  • Limited use of free office space at a downtown location for the purposes of meetings, work, and an address for mail and service

  • Mentorship in managing a legal practice and in your area(s) of practice 

The first cohort of the Incubator Program started in January 2014. Click here for details about the first cohort. Stay tuned for details on applying for the second cohort.

TRAININGS

Through a collaboration between the Access to Justice Institute and the Center for Professional Development, the Initiative offers a series of CLEs and workshops geared to provide hands-on training to launch and build a practice. 

2014 Solo and Low Bono Initiative Fall Brown Bag Workshop Series

The Solo and Low Bono Initiative is proud to present our fall brown-bag series. This series is meant to support alumni who are in the beginning stages of launching or running a solo practice, with an emphasis on best practices for new low bono practitioners. The series is free to all Seattle University School of Law students and alumni!

Please note, there is no CLE credit available for brown-bag sessions.

Fall 2014 Schedule

SEPTEMBER: Making Your Old Business Plan Sing
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Law Offices of Dean Standish Perkins at 1800 9th Avenue #1630 in downtown Seattle
No CLE credits. Click here to register.

The mighty business plan is best when it is considered a living document. After a year or so in practice, or when major changes or events, it is ideal to pull the old thing out and rework it based on new knowledge and the changed environment. This will be a hands-on workshop, so bring three closed client files and your current business plan to re-work in this workshop. We will go through key ways to improve it and how to implement the improvements.

OCTOBER: Back-Up and Succession Planning
Thursday, October 30, 2014
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
First floor conference room at 1800 9th Avenue in downtown Seattle
1.5 CLE credits pending. Click here to register.

Being a solo practitioner should be rewarding, including giving yourself a vacation every once and a while. But how do you go on vacation when you're a solo? What plans do you have to keep your practice running while you're gone? Or what if there's any emergency that keeps you away from your practice? This CLE is perfect for the solo or small firm practitioner who wants to take time off and have another lawyer step into their shoes for a vacation or temporary emergency. For those who do want to be ready for everything, succession planning will be addressed as well. We will cover: 1) what to look for in a backup attorney; 2) what are the necessary agreements and notices; and 3) what the office should look like when your backup shows up.

NOVEMBER: Nimble Office Technology
Thursday, November 20, 2014
12:30 - 2:00 p.m. (note 30-minute time change)
First floor conference room at 1800 9th Avenue in downtown Seattle
1.5 CLE credits pending. Click here to register.

As technological innovations continue to make things more efficient and speedy, now is the best time to be running a nimble law office. But it can also be scary because technology changes frequently and it can be overwhelming, especially for practitioners who are not digital natives. This presentation will discuss what kinds of technology can make your office run more efficiently, flexibly, and securely. From choosing a cloud provider to practice management software, encryption to backup, this presentation will provide information about what products to look at, what to look for in a product and what to ask when deciding which product to choose or not.

Other training resources offered by the larger legal community include:

COMMUNITY

The Low Bono and Solo Initiative aims to connect new attorneys aspiring to set up solo and small firm practices to others in the same community. The following are ways to connect with the solo and small firm community, including ones focused on serving moderate mean client communities:

  • WSBA Low Bono Section: This group brings together attorneys and professionals dedicated to providing low bono legal services to clients of moderate means for the purpose of sharing resources and supporting each other. 

  • WSBA Moderate Means Program: Through a partnership between WSBA and the three WA law schools, law students perform intakes of moderate income clients and make referrals to attorneys willing to charge reduce fees. Click here to sign up to be a Moderate Means Program attorney and receive referrals. Click here for information on how to get involved with the program as a law student. 

  • WSBA Solo and Small Firm Section: This section helps solo and small practice attorneys to ethically conduct a profitable, satisfying business by acting as a clearinghouse for qualified law practice management and technology information.

  • KCBA Solo and Small Firm Section: This section provides opportunities to discuss common problems and solutions, and receive benefits usually associated with large firms such as immediate access to fellow associates for referrals and advice through an active E-mail listserv, a Web site to provide marketing opportunities, and the use of high end equipment by sharing resources. Monthly meetings feature speakers on issues relevant to the solo or small firm including practice management, technology and marketing.

  • WSBA Substantive Law-based Sections, KCBA Sections and Specialty Bar Associations: The sections and associations offer members a collective voice and the opportunity to become better acquainted with other bar members who practice in similar areas of the law.

RESOURCES

The Low Bono and Solo Initiative aims to connect our alumni who are solo or small firm practitioners to resources that will help advance their practices.

  • Seattle University School of Law Library: All alumni have lifetime library privileges. Graduates enjoy complete access not only to the print collection, but also to our extensive microfilm and government document collections.

  • Seattle University Audit Courses: Our law graduates may audit up to a total of six credit hours of law school classes free of charge. Course enrollment is on a space-available basis and subject to instructor's approval. In some cases the Washington State Bar Association grants CLE credits for such enrollment.

  • Lexus Nexus Discount for New Attorneys: Recent law graduates who are starting their own practice are eligible to access Lexis.com/Lexis Advance subscriptions for $50/month for up to 18 months. Contact the Lexis representative for more information.

  • WSBA: The WA State Bar Association offers a number of resources including CaseMaker, a free online research library, the LOMAP's Lending Library, and the Ethics Line.

  • Vizibid: This is a lawyers-only web community that pools the disparate knowledge and document resources of solo and small practice attorneys. You can find and share model legal documents, and also share ratings and comments about the documents for other lawyers in the community to see.

Details from "Triumvirate," by William Morris Robinson