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 offer 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, 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 "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 receives:

  • A small stipend of $3,000 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. Get to know the new 2015 cohort.

Trainings

Through a collaboration between the Access to Justice Institute, the Center for Professional Development, and the Office of Alumni Relations, the Initiative offers a series of CLEs and workshops geared to support lawyers 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 and takes place on most third Tuesdays of the month from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the law school in Room 109.

2015 Low Bono Brown Bag Series Schedule

MARCH: Essential Protocols and Procedures for the Law Office
Charity Anastasio ‘07, Practice Management Advisor with WSBA’s Law Office Management Assistance Program
Tuesday, March 17
12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Seattle University School of Law, Sullivan Hall, Room 109
1.5 CLE credits pending. Click here to register.

The checklist for starting a new law practice should include setting up protocols, policies, and procedures. When you take policies and procedures out of your head and put them on paper, it gives value to your firm as a separate entity with methods and norms that can eventually proceed without you. Charity Anastasio ‘07, Practice Management Advisor with WSBA’s Law Office Management Assistance Program, will cover the best practices for policies and procedures covering conflict checks to billing to succession planning and more. We will view a WSBA-produced webinar CLE followed by live discussion. Ms. Anastasio presents in the webinar and will lead the discussion. Whether you’re just starting up your practice or need to refresh your outdated policies, this CLE is for you! 1.5 CLE credits pending.

APRIL: 10 Mistakes New Lawyers Make (and Should Avoid)
Roy Umlauf ’85 of Forsberg and Umlauf and Dean Standish Perkins ’85 of Dean Standish Perkins and Associates
Tuesday, April 21
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Seattle University School of Law, Sullivan Hall, Room 109
1.5 CLE credits pending. Click here to register.

As new lawyers set out to start practicing, let alone start their own law firm, they need to make sure to have all the tools they need to avoid making “rookie” mistakes. Professional liability defense attorney Roy Umlauf ’85 and seasoned trial attorney Dean Standish Perkins ’85 will walk you through the major mistakes new lawyers commonly make and more importantly how to avoid making them! 1.5 CLE credits pending.

MAY 19: Marketing 101 with Tracy Reid and Dean Standish Perkins – RSVP here.

JUNE 16: Your Initial Client Interview with Carrie Kovacevich – RSVP here.

JULY 21: Effective Client Counseling (speaker TBA) – RSVP here.

SEPTEMBER 15: Different Billable Models with Peter Roberts – RSVP here.

OCTOBER 20: Ethics and Professionalism with Jeanne Marie Clavere – RSVP here.

NOVEMBER 17: Google-liscious Technology with Charity Anastasio – RSVP here.

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.
  • Lexis Nexis 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 Washington State Bar Association offers a number of resources including CaseMaker, a free online research library, the LOMAP's Lending Library, and the Ethics Line.

Details from "Triumvirate," by William Morris Robinson