New Law Firm Paradigm
For the past few months, Judge Childers and Andy Branham and I have been discussing how we can bring to fruition an idea developed by Don Carrol of the NC Lawyers Assistance Program. The concept is to create a public service law firm that uses problem solving, mentoring, coaching, public community education, preventative law, limited scope or unbundled legal services to assist middle income and working income persons who don't qualify for legal services but cannot afford legal help.
1. Older attorneys near retirement but not quite ready to give it up all together would be recruited to work as the main staff of the firm to mentor and teach younger attorneys fresh out of law school.
2. Middle and working income persons would be the target population served on a sliding fee scale.
3. The job market for newly graduated attorneys is very bad- few jobs exist right now and these attorneys have little means of learning how to practice law. Young or newly graduated lawyers would be recruited at very low wages to commit to the firm for a 6-12 month period to learn how to practice law while also delivering 'pro bono' services to the population described in paragraph 2.
The firm would be a non profit 501(c)(3) firm and would solicit donations and grants as the income anticipated to be generated would not suffice to pay all the attorneys plus overhead. Persons with little or no means to pay could use the service but would still be asked to contribute something. The senior attorneys would mentor and guide the younger ones using the methodologies outlined above and would help provide litigation and long term services where warranted.
This would serve an already underserved population that is suffering due to the economic recession, help young attorneys who cannot find jobs, keep our older lawyers busy with encore careers that give back to our communities and improve access to justice for all! Some services would be provide pro bono and we would expect to have some pro bono or volunteer attorneys helping.
Comments or thoughts or suggestions welcome!