Wayfind Legal Clinics
Wayfind connects nonprofit organizations and low-income microenterprise entrepreneurs with volunteer attorneys who assist them on business legal matters. Wayfind also provides legal trainings to attorneys and the nonprofit community on topics related to nonprofits and microenterprise businesses.
Wayfind hosts free microenterprise legal clinics in Seattle and Edmonds. These clinics are offered in partnership with Ventures (formerly Washington C.A.S.H.), the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship (formerly Start Zone NW at Bainbridge Graduate Institute) and Mercy Corps NW, all of which provide hands-on education, support and access to capital needed to launch and manage successful small enterprises. These organizations focus on working with entrepreneurs who are low-income, women and/or from minority populations.
Wayfind volunteer attorneys and law students meet with low-income microenterprise entrepreneurs to spot legal issues and counsel them with respect to their microenterprise business venture. Microenterprise entrepreneurs may qualify for "extended legal services" beyond the clinical consultation, if the attorney determines the venture is ready for legal representation.
Wayfind partners with the Nonprofit Assistance Center (NAC) to host legal clinics for nonprofit organizations. Wayfind volunteer attorneys and law students meet with nonprofit staff or board members to issue spot and counsel them on issues they are trying to resolve.
How does the program work?
The clinic only serves clients who are referred by staff from partnering organizations. Every client who comes to the clinic has already received mentoring, resources and support from partnering organizations who have identified legal issues he/she needs help with.
Volunteer lawyers and law students meet with clients for 45 minutes to an hour. The law student is responsible to take detailed notes so that he/she can draft a summary of the advice the attorney gives and a plan of action for the client to take with him/her after the clinic.
Why should students get involved?
Students can make a difference by helping microentrepreneurs who otherwise may not be able to get legal assistance and access to resources and who will ultimately run a success local business, and also help nonprofit organizations who have limited budget to get the legal assistance they need.
You will learn legal practice skills like client interviewing, legal analysis, and written communication. In the microenterprise clinics, you will also learn about various legal areas of business law including contracts, business formation, and intellectual property. In the nonprofit clinics, you will learn about various areas of nonprofit law, including board governance, tax, lease agreements and corporate viability.
The volunteer lawyers work in a variety of settings ranging from the largest law firms in Seattle to mid-size firms to solo practitioners. You will have an opportunity to network with transactional lawyers and work side by side with them.
What kind of a commitment do you need to make to be involved?
Law students must volunteer for at least two to four 3-hour clinics during the academic year (which runs from October through June) and complete the training. See the training section for details.
How do I apply?
Students can apply to intern with one of the clinics by emailing a resume and cover letter addressed to Jodi Nishioka, Wayfind Executive Director, to Jennifer Werdell, ATJI Associate Director, at email@example.com. The cover letter should explain why they are interested in volunteering and highlight any previous experience that may be helpful. Students should indicate what clinic they are applying for; or, if they are applying for both, which is their preference. Application materials are due Friday, September 16. Additional students may be able to participate starting in winter or spring if space becomes available. Please contact Jennifer Werdell, firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions.
What training is offered?
Students must attend an initial ATJI training that provides foundational skills in the areas of professional responsibility, professionalism, and client communication and then also attend a half-day Microenterprise 101 training geared for both volunteer attorneys and law students.