New Incubator Launches in Colorado with Helping Hand from the CBF

Earlier this month, the CBF and our Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP) gained a new partner in the cause with the official launch of the Legal Entrepreneurs for Justice (LEJ) incubator in Denver.

Over the years since the CBF developed and launched the JEP, one of our goals for the program has been to identify successful and replicable practice models and spread these innovations to the broader legal market. Along the way, the JEP itself has become a replicable model for other incubator programs focused on legal innovation across the United States and beyond.

So when a group of legal stakeholders in Colorado, led by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Melissa Hart, were interested in developing a JEP-like program there, the CBF was ready to help. They had some seed money from the University of Colorado Law School, some great donated work space from LawBank, and some dedicated volunteers, but they did not have a host entity or the experienced staff to bring the program to fruition.

Enter the CBF and our Director of Innovation and Training, Jessica Bednarz. The CBF agreed with the budding Colorado group to lend them Jessica’s time, experience and expertise, and connections, building on her recent Colorado roots. The CBF also agreed to serve as fiscal sponsor for the new program as it got off the ground.

The CBF used this opportunity to update and utilize our detailed Incubator Startup Checklist, and with a huge assist from Jess, over the next 15 months the program now known as LEJ came together. In addition to helping to develop the LEJ curriculum, policies, and other program logistics, Jess built on her prior work within the Colorado access to justice community to identify and recruit more great people to round out a very hands-on Organizing Committee, and later, the LEJ Board of Directors.

The big day came on June 3, 2019, when LEJ officially welcomed its first cohort of four participating attorneys. Their practice areas include immigration, family law, criminal defense, and estate planning and trust administration. Three of the attorneys are based in Denver and one is based in Alamosa, which is a more rural community located about two and a half hours southwest of Denver.

At the official launch event in Denver that week, LEJ also recognized Jess with a well-deserved award (pictured) for her dedication and great work in helping to bring the program to life. By all accounts the LEJ is off to a great start, and we look forward to continuing to partner with them on innovative, market-based solutions to improve access to justice for the middle class.