Wayfind (formerly WAACO) Microenterprise Clinic
Wayfind connects nonprofit organizations and low-income microenterprise entrepreneurs with volunteer attorneys who assist them on business legal matters. Wayfind also provides legal trainings to attorneys and the nonprofit community on topics related to nonprofits and microenterprise businesses.
Wayfind hosts free microenterprise legal clinics in three locations - Seattle, Federal Way and Edmonds. These clinics are offered in partnership with Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (WA C.A.S.H.), Start Zone NW and Start Zone, all of which provide hands-on education, support and access to capital needed to launch and manage successful small enterprises. These organizations focus on working with entrepreneurs who are low-income, women and/or from minority populations.
Wayfind 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, Start Zone NW, and Start Zone clients who are referred by staff from those organizations. 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.
Why should students get involved?
Students can make a difference by 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 and volunteer for at least one clinic throughout the year (which runs from October through June).
How do I apply?
Information about 2015-2016 clinics will be available soon. Please check back for updates.
What training is offered?
Students typically attend an initial ATJI training that provides foundational skills in the areas of professional responsibility, professionalism, and client comunication and then also attend a half-day Microenterprise 101 training geared for both volunteer attorneys and law students.