Monthly Archives: October 2012

Limited Scope Pro Bono?

The Legal Services Corporation just released a full report from its Pro Bono Task Force.  The report, produced pro bono by DLA Piper, summarizes findings and recommendations of the PBTF.

One of those recommendations is to develop a “Pro Bono Toolkit” that local programs can use to help expand the ways lawyers volunteer to help those unable to afford legal assistance.  A noteworthy example of what that toolkit could include is found on page 12 of the report:

“Mechanisms for involving pro bono volunteers in providing limited assistance to pro se litigants, and otherwise empowering pro se parties.”

In other words, teach lawyers how to apply limited scope representation concepts on a volunteer basis. This makes perfect sense.  Legal aid attorneys have been delivering LSR for decades out of economic necessity.  With inadequate funding for the staff needed to fully represent the millions of low-income applicants for free legal aid, these innovative lawyers found ways to help some of those applicants handle their own legal matters.

If you have read my book, you know that I devote some ink to how to benefit from the extensive expertise that probably exists in your community legal aid office.  I won’t give it all away here, but you can quickly learn from the pros how to deliver limited scope representationand pay for it by volunteering at the same time.  Even better, when you handle pro bono cases through most legal aid organizations, they provide malpractice coverage for those cases at no charge to you in addition to the forms and mentoring to get you off and running.   That’s more than “win-win,” it is “win-win-win” because an eligible client gets legal assistance, the program gets a new volunteer and you get support as you learn a new way of delivering your valuable legal skills to people who cannot afford full-scope representation.

Oh, and did I mention that October 22-26 is National Celebrate Pro Bono Week in the U.S. and that November 5-10 is National Pro Bono Week in the U.K.?  Great timing, eh?

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Takin’ It To The Streets

Drive around any shopping area in a mid-sized suburb and you are likely to notice businesses that once shunned the strip or othe malls but have “gone retail.” Title companies, realtors, insurance agents and even financial advisors have all “gone retail” to one extent or another.

Whether to nab cheap space or to be near their customers, these businesses that do not traditionally rely on foot traffic or impulse purchases are now nestled between book stores, hair salons and coffee shops. Whatever the reason, they are now in the mix.

Now juxtapose this:  a news story by Kim Miller in the Palm Beach Post in December 2011 attracted international attention for the “Law Booth” at a Boynton Beach, Florida, mall founded by Melva Rozier, Richard Carey and Paul Burkhart. I applauded their creativity and innovative blend of “retail” and “professional services.” In a more recent story, Alice Hines at the Huffington Post provides a review after four months of operation. Business has been so good, the group is thinking about expanding. This quote caught my attention (emphasis mine):

“We thought that bankruptcy and foreclosure would be the main practice areas,” Rozier said. “But it’s much more of a cross-pollination, people who qualify for legal aid and people who can afford the regular market.”

Rozier, Carey and Burkhart have a website, but it is no “traditional” website. There are ways to pay online and submit documents electronically for review. After your payment clears, one of the lawyers will contact you.

So what do these two concepts–unconventional strip mall tenants and VERY novel lawyers-in-a-booth–have to do with each other? Simple: they show you the basic elements for “retail lawyering.” Take your practice to where the clients are, rather than making them find you.

I devoted a whole chapter in my book to how to develop this type of innovative business strategy in your own area. If you have not read it, order your copy today using the instructions on the right. Better yet, go to Amazon and download your copy right now to get started immediately.

You never know who in your area has already picked up my book and begun to strategize on how to take on the very market sector you have in mind!

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