FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2017
Contact: Amy Starnes
Public Information Director, State Bar of Texas
(800) 204-2222, ext. 1706, or (512) 427-1706
State Bar of Texas launches legal incubator
AUSTIN — The State Bar of Texas launched the Texas Opportunity and Justice Incubator (TOJI) today and celebrated the first group of lawyers to participate in this groundbreaking program.
TOJI is a legal incubator designed to provide practical, real-world training for entrepreneurial new lawyers while chipping away at the unmet legal needs of average Texas residents.
A select group of lawyers admitted to the program will receive training and mentorship designed to provide them with the skills needed to establish sustainable law practices that serve low- and modest-income Texans. Studies have shown that only one in five low-income Americans and two in five middle-income Americans with civil legal needs find help.
TOJI was a primary initiative of 2016-17 State Bar of Texas President Frank Stevenson.
“Currently, the enormous need for justice and the enormous need for opportunity don’t meet,” Stevenson said. “TOJI will provide justice for our fellow Texans and opportunity for our fellow Texas lawyers.”
There are more than 60 legal incubators across the United States and in four other countries. There are almost as many different philosophies about how an incubator program can be organized as there are legal incubators.
“We are working with law schools, local bars, legal aid groups, and others to enhance the benefits the TOJI program provides,” State Bar of Texas Executive Director Michelle Hunter said. “We hope our model and curriculum eventually can be replicated by other organizations across Texas.”
After the fall 2016 launch of TOJI’s website—txoji.com—TOJI Director Anne-Marie Rábago and her staff responded to more than 400 phone and email inquiries from potential applicants, volunteer attorneys, and law school faculty and administrators.
“We received 48 applications for the 10 available spaces in this initial group. It was a very difficult selection process, to say the least,” said Rábago. “Personally, I am in awe at the quality of recently-licensed Texas attorneys with a demonstrated commitment and dedication to starting a solo practice serving the needs of low- and modest-income Texans.”
The first group of incubator lawyers intends to provide services in the areas of: consumer protection, contracts, criminal defense, elder law, estate planning & probate, family law, guardianship, immigration, real estate, and small business law. Two of these incubator lawyers aim to set-up nonprofit law firms that provide affordable income-based legal fees.
A new group of 10 lawyers will be selected to join the incubator program every six months. At full capacity, there will be 30 incubator lawyers in the 18-month program.
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The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @statebaroftexas, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/statebaroftexas, or visit texasbar.com.