According to tradition, the Spanish philosopher Seneca, who once tutored and advised Nero, is credited with the saying that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
I wrote Start and Grow Your Limited Scope Practice because I sensed the time was right. After years of teaching lawyers how to deliver “unbundled” or “limited scope” legal assistance properly, I wanted to reach the younger lawyers who may be looking for new ways to use their degrees and training to help people.
Because the Great Recession swelled the ranks of people struggling financially–typically coincident with a sudden need for legal assistance–the demand was far outstripping the supply of lawyers who had creative solutions for the financial aspect of the lawyer-client relationship. About the same time, there was a renewed push for “unbundling” legal services, a concept that was decades old, and more accepting attitudes among bench and ethics committees. More than ever, the need for legal assistance to everyday people with everyday problems was exceeding the supply of affordable legal services. Few average Americans need $1,000/hour lawyers and few $1,000/hour lawyers seem to need average Americans as clients.
So recently, when I listened to Dean Royal Furgeson and Associate Dean Ellen Pryor of the new UNT College of Law in Dallas, Texas, I was really excited to hear their vision for a new approach to legal education for a new class of lawyers who will be trained differently and exposed to many aspects of the legal profession that traditional law schools ignore. At a time when many ask, “why another law school,” Furgeson and Pryor have an answer ready: to fill a gap in the law school education system that the others have ignored: preparing graduates to meet the under-served legal needs of our society in creative ways with both a modernized approach to teaching and fewer obstacles to entry for people who want to serve others.
While the UNT College of Law may not give the “Top 50” law schools a reason to worry about their rankings anytime soon, I have no doubt that those who graduate from its programs will find plenty of opportunity to apply their knowledge and determination to innovatively address the everyday legal challenges that most Americans face in their lives. Maybe, opportunity is about to encounter prepared graduates and the middle-income families with typical legal needs will then feel a bit more lucky.