Seven alumni get help starting low bono practices

February 02, 2016

Now entering its third year, the Low Bono Incubator program has expanded to support seven new attorneys as they build solo practices to serve moderate-income clients. Their services cover a wide range of legal issues, from debt relief to immigration help.

A low bono practice offers reduced-fee legal services to clients who can't afford a full-price attorney but also don't qualify for indigent aid. The Access to Justice Institute at Seattle University School of Law launched the Low Bono Incubator program in 2014 to give recent graduates financial assistance, mentorship, and office space for 12 months as they establish and nurture their new practices.

2016 Incubator Attorneys

Benjamin Sweeney, Amy Wilburn Morseburg, Samuel Leonard, Joshua Turnham, Adrian Harris, Amy Carei, Stan Perkins, and Chris Bhang

The 2016 participants are:

  • Chris Bhang '13, who founded IneĊ Law Group, PLLC with classmates Josh Feinstein and Ryan Sullivan to help clients with immigration issues and protect them from predatory businesses.
  • Amy Carei '13, who is building a family law practice that specializes in providing services to survivors of domestic violence in Pierce County.
  • Adrian Harris '14, who wants to provide family law and criminal law services to moderate means clients.
  • Samuel Leonard '13, who practices civil litigation with an emphasis on consumer law, debt defense, foreclosure prevention, and bankruptcy.
  • Amy Wilburn Morseburg '14, who plans to specialize in bankruptcy. Prior to law school she worked as a teacher and as a paralegal for a bankruptcy attorney.
  • Benjamin Sweeney '15, who will focus on immigration law and family law, and provide misdemeanor-level criminal law services.
  • Joshua Turnham '15, who is launching a solo practice to help people who need help with debt relief and other consumer issues.

Turnham holds an honor that is new to the incubator program this year. The David Leen Consumer Justice Incubator Attorney is a specially designated position supported by the Legal Foundation of Washington and the Northwest Consumer Law Center and named for distinguished Seattle consumer litigator David Leen.

Stan Perkins '85, a successful personal injury attorney, provides funding for the remaining incubator positions and mentorship for the new attorneys.

"I have always been so grateful to the experienced lawyers who took time out of their busy schedules to mentor me when I first went out on my own 30 years ago," he said. "The opportunity for me to help in this process and to encourage our incubatees' entrepreneurial spirit has been very rewarding."

Another Seattle U Law graduate, Brian Howe '09, partnered with the Access to Justice Institute to provide work space for the incubator attorneys at Impact Hub, a company he founded in 2011 to provide shared offices to mission-driven small businesses.

"I know how much peer support, business skills, and mentorship matter to a young attorney trying to figure out how to be a businessperson," he said. "By helping these lawyers make social justice part of their business efforts at launch, the hope is that it becomes part of the firm's DNA and something that remains essential to their continued growth and success."

Morseburg compared the work of low bono attorneys to her former career in education. "When I was teaching, I had a special place in my heart for those 'fall through the cracks' kids — not the ones failing out, not the ones excelling on their own, and not the special needs kids. There were services for all those folks," she said. "It's the steady C and D students, the ones just barely making it, who need an extra hand."