Legal Empowerment Accelerator Program (LEAP)
The Need for Legal Services
Without legal assistance, survivors of domestic and sexual violence face profound barriers on their pathways to safety, justice and healing. High-priority areas include protective orders, child support, custody, divorce, immigration status, wrongful termination, landlord-tenant matters, and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the provision of these legal services is inadequate, fragmented and inaccessible. And while access to legal assistance is key to achieving safety and self-sufficiency—national studies show that access to an attorney can increase survivors’ likelihood of obtaining a civil restraining order from 32% to 86%—this need remains unmet for the majority of survivors and their children.
LEAP at A Safe Place Family Justice Center
This accelerator program helps launch the solo practice careers of new attorneys as well as those returning to the practice after an extended absence. The LEAP program provides entrepreneurial spirited lawyers with the skills to build and sustain a modest means of practice across a wide range of practice areas. The LEAP cohorts agree to represent participants referred by Clackamas Women’s Services with 15-hours of pro-bono and 35-hours of sliding scale legal services per month. In exchange, these new solos will gain invaluable professional experience while learning in a collaborative supportive environment.
LEAP was developed through an ad-hoc group that began regularly meeting in 2016. Currently, the Advisory Committee includes several private practitioners, a CWS Board member, CWS’ Executive Director, representatives of the County Bar Association, representatives of Lewis & Clark Law School, Victim Rights Law Center, Clackamas Women Lawyers, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, and Clackamas County Law Library.
Features of LEAP
- LEAP cohorts will be carefully selected by members of the LEAP Advisory Committee and will receive ongoing coaching and mentoring from the LEAP Managing Attorney.
- The LEAP Managing Attorney, an attorney with experience in legal matters that survivors commonly face, will provide coaching and mentoring support in both the substantive and procedural aspects of law practice and law office management.
- Attorneys selected to join the LEAP cohort will operate as their own independent law firm.
- The LEAP program provides cohorts with office space and basic office equipment including practice management software and access to OECI in an office which will be located between A Safe Place Family Justice Center and the Clackamas County Court.
- LEAP cohorts will receive 24/7 access to the Clackamas County Law Library which includes access to the Clackamas County Bar Association (CCBA) and Oregon State Bar (OSB) CLEs, free membership to CCBA (including access to events), Lexis and Westlaw research, and e-Court access.
- LEAP program will cover membership dues for the OSB and PLF for the length of the program.