Legal Incubators: Improving Access to Justice & Modernizing Legal Practice

//Legal Incubators: Improving Access to Justice & Modernizing Legal Practice

By Josh Taylor

Where can a lawyer go when they want to serve underrepresented and financially constrained populations?  That question should not be hard to answer, but unfortunately many legal professionals seeking to do good for low-income communities struggle to know where and how they are supported in that endeavor.  That’s where legal incubators come in and come to the rescue of socially- and equality-conscious lawyers.

Legal incubators bring access to justice a step closer to reality by supporting lawyers looking to devote their practices to serving middle and lower income people.  While incubators are common in the small business community, legal incubators are not especially common. A legal incubator typically supports lawyers with workspace, collaborative support, training, and some funding.  Especially important, legal incubators provide technology and training on technology efficiency to save time and money for clients. Smokeball practice management software has the honor of working with legal incubators in Chicago and in California to help with this tech efficiency goal.

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The Justice Entrepreneurs Project is a Chicago-based legal incubator supported by the Chicago Bar Foundation.  JEP’s website outlines its importance to the community: “The CBF Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP) is a small business incubator that helps newer lawyers start innovative, socially conscious law practices serving low and middle income Chicagoans. The JEP draws on principles of entrepreneurship and experimentation common in the tech startup community to develop disruptive, market-based models to improve access to legal services.”  The effects of legal incubators like JEP reverberate deeply into the community. “To date, the JEP has helped more than 50 attorneys build sustainable businesses serving this market. In the past year alone, JEP attorneys helped more than 4,000 low to middle-income clients and brought in over $4 million in revenue in the process.” Even besides these strides, legal incubators often push the boundaries on traditional money-making lawyering by streamlining processes and utilizing technology to be most efficient for clients.  Out of necessity, legal incubators lead the way in showing how law should be practiced to keep client costs low. Indeed, “[d]ozens of organizations across the country and beyond already have adopted the JEP model or leveraged JEP resources to improve access to legal services in their own communities.” Part of JEP’s technological leadership in the legal industry is presenting and offering top practice management tools to its membership. Smokeball has been happy to present for JEP members and offer Smokeball free to members during their time in the program.

Another legal incubator Smokeball works with is the Bay Area Legal Incubator (BALI).  BALI is run through the Alameda County Bar Association and Volunteer Legal Services Corporation.  BALI is a “social-mission community (with a physical hub and online network) for individual, California-licensed attorneys committed to serving people of modest economic means.”  Like JEP, BALI provides a program for attorneys to launch practices serving low- and middle-income clients in a vast array of areas. BALI also educates its members on various technologies to streamline legal practice and make it more affordable.  Smokeball recently had the honor of presenting at one of its technology showcases to highlight the many features of the software that save time and money, and make a solo or small practice hum along.

Legal incubators not only serve their communities by offering reasonably priced legal services, they also serve the legal community as a whole by keeping the focus on becoming lighter, more agile, and more modern.  Smokeball is delighted to continue working with legal incubators to facilitate access to justice and modernization of legal practice.

To learn more about JEP and all the great work they do in the Chicago area, visit their website here.  To learn more about BALI and all they do in the Bay Area, visit their website here.  To learn more about how Smokeball supports these and other legal causes, visit our website and blog.  Call or visit the website today to book a Smokeball demo; from now until Thanksgiving, during its Season of Giving, Smokeball is donating $100 to charity for any demo run by one of its small firm specialists.  There’s no better time to see Smokeball in action!

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By | October 23rd, 2018|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.

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