Low Bono Incubator attorneys get their practices off the ground

February 04, 2015

Four recent graduates are starting their own practices and serving clients of moderate means with the support of the Low Bono Incubator Program. The program, now in its second year and run by the Access to Justice Institute, provides selected new attorneys financial assistance and guidance as they "incubate" a law practice for 12 months.

A low bono practice is built around serving clients of moderate means by offering reduced-fee legal services.

This year's Incubator attorneys are:

  • Melissa Eckstrom '14, who will focus on family law and criminal defense. Her goal is to assist in all aspects of family law and represent individuals with misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor charges.
  • Max Gibbs-Ruby '14 , who is setting up a general law low bono practice focusing on family law, public benefits, immigration, non-profit law, and specifically working to increase access to justice and advocacy for clients from a variety of racial, socio-economic, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and disability backgrounds.
  • Jon Quittner ’14, who is setting up a low bono practice in Long Beach, Wash, with the goal of assisting the unserved population in Pacific County, where there are few attorneys. He will focus on elder law because of the large percentage of elderly people in the area, as well as landlord/tenant, criminal defense, and family law.
  • John Varga '12, whose practice includes estate planning, family law, criminal defense, landlord/tenant, issues and veterans affairs. Varga served eight years in the Army Reserves, including a deployment to Afghanistan, and wants to provide low bono legal services to veterans, specifically those of the post-9/11 generation.
Low bono incubator attorneys 2015

Stan Perkins (center) generously supports the Low Bono Incubator program. This year's incubator attorneys are John Varga, Max Gibbs-Ruby, Melissa Eckstrom, and Jon Quittner.

Stan Perkins '85, a successful personal injury attorney, is again providing funding and mentorship for the new attorneys. Perkins and Diana Singleton '98, director of the Access to Justice Institute, are working with the WSBA's Moderate Means Program, Law Office Management and Assistance Program, and Low Bono Section, to organize monthly brown bag lunches on topics such as billable models and marketing. They are also recruiting fellow alumni to mentor the Incubator attorneys in their specific practice areas.

The four are excited to get their practices off the ground and grateful for the assistance of the law school and Perkins, and the opportunity to help clients.

"I started a low bono practice in order to help children who have been abused, parents who are afraid, and individuals with moderate means," Eckstrom said. "Today, most of my family and non-law school friends would not meet the requirements to be assigned to a public defender, yet they also could not afford an attorney. I strongly believe that everyone deserves representation, and I want to do everything within my power to positively impact the lives of others."