ADVANCE is still in its idea stages; however, as mentioned, we have been selected as a semi-finalist for the Echoing Green Fellowship, which would fund our organization for the next two years. In addition, one of the organization's founders has seen how her work as a lawyer and social entrepreneur implementing a law firm model identical to ADVANCE's has made positive and lasting changes to low and moderate income people navigating the justice system in L.A. But her experience has been met with challenges when trying to address the needs of a large population. This led her to see potential in creating a training program so legal professionals like her can help people the law is meant to serve.
Learn about this organization’s budget, leadership and mission
1 Submitted Idea
- 2013 Grants Challenge
ADVANCE builds a “Teach for America” for legal reform that produces socially responsible lawyers committed to restoring justice and access to legal services. An experiential training program to transform how attorneys practice law in L.A., CA, ADVANCE helps millions gain unprecedented access to legal services and lawyers build satisfying careers committed to justice. We train law graduates to become socially responsible attorneys who: 1) deliver legal services through a social enterprise model; 2) make positive changes to a lawyer’s work-life balance; and 3) restore integrity, trust, and access in the justice system for all. **The Problem** The outdated practice of law is a major cause of social problems. The justice gap between low to moderate income people and legal services is widespread, and grows as courts and legal nonprofits face budget cuts. In L.A., half of its 10 million residents come to court without a lawyer. Meanwhile, new law grads remain unemployed or enter a dissatisfying profession that is reluctant to help advance legal access. Currently, legal self-help, nonprofit, and pro bono services have failed to close the justice gap. Public Counsel, Equal Justice Works, Legal Aid, and justice corps provide direct legal services to the poor but lack sustaining forms of revenue and fail to serve a large percentage of the population. Solo practice incubators train lawyers in traditional forms of law practice that ignore social enterprise values. Others, such as DOJ’s Access to Justice, are vulnerable to budget cuts and struggle to attract probono lawyers. Likewise, traditional firms only promote probono assistance and social responsibility as an aside. **ADVANCE--The Solution** Our model is the first legal training program that equips lawyers to build careers committed to closing the justice gap and approaches the legal practice as a social enterprise. Based on Harvard’s shared value concept, it dismantles the old law firm model and returns lawyers to the business of service and addressing societal needs and challenges. In the end, ADVANCE not only helps to solve the justice gap by providing access to legal services for the majority of Angelenos, it also helps provide jobs for the nearly 50% of unemployed law school graduates who want to help their community but have no means to do so. In addition, by addressing these two issues facing the legal system, ADVANCE will help alleviate the overcrowding and lack of resources facing Los Angeles court systems. **The Idea** A hybrid that places social responsibility at the core of legal services, we create a social enterprise law firm model that trains lawyers to provide affordable and innovative legal services to low and moderate income people. Consisting of a B corp law firm and training program, new law graduates will enter a 2-year, salaried position to learn how to practice law that advances social responsibility, healing and restored justice. The program includes: trainings; workshops; leadership courses; law practice management courses; mentoring and coaching; online resources; and the creation of easy-access legal “minute clinics” at locations convenient to target populations. At the end, trainees will be equipped to offer holistic legal services in restorative justice, collaborative law, conflict resolution, mediation, and civil and criminal law. Trainees will also learn how to start and manage a law firm that reconnects legal business success with social progress. Having access to legal representation should never be limited to the rich. Angelenos with low or moderate incomes, or who are unemployed, equally deserve legal representation. ADVANCE delivers justice for this population that has long been left behind. With ADVANCE, the impossible begins to become possible -- a model for justice provided to all.