Justice Entrepreneurs Project attorneys Magda Derisma, Sonny Thatch, Alyease Jones, and Cliff Helm joined JEP Director Trevor Clarke in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Fourth Annual Access to Justice through Legal Incubators and Nonprofit Law Firms conference. As in years past, the JEP played a prominent role at the three day conference, adding our voices to plenary sessions, concurrent sessions, and breakout groups. The JEP is the largest incubator in the country, responsible for the most incubator participants and alumni (objectively), and the most successful and innovative firms (subjective, yes, but we haven’t heard of any challengers). As such, the JEP has learned a lot, and has a lot to share, about meeting the needs of low and moderate income people through new models of legal service delivery.
At the conference, we talked with attendees from across the country and beyond there are now over 60 incubators in the US and this year’s conference included incubators from Pakistan, the Dominican Republic, and Romania. With presentations ranging from the structure of pro bono / legal aid residency training programs to engaging clients with alternative fee arrangements, JEP delegates spoke to strategies and techniques to encourage the success and sustainability of both incubators themselves and the socially just practices being incubated. We learned from others, too, and in the process made connections that will facilitate knowledge exchange long after the conference’s end. We look forward to putting lessons into practice and helping grow the incubator movement further to increase access to affordable, accessible legal services across the country, and across the world.