Access To Justice


Access To Justice:

Lawyers as entrepreneurs: Filling the access to justice gap

OSBA Staff
Columbus, OH

Two young lawyer entrepreneurs have found their small firm niche in Ohio’s access to justice gap.

Jacob Levine and Mindy Yocum, together Yocum Levine, are two small firm practitioners who work with social entrepreneurs and social enterprises in Columbus.

“We’re a social enterprise. Finding people who already help people, and then helping them,” Levine said.

Yocum and Levine work with companies that hire employees who face barriers to re-entering the job market and are having re-entrance issues. They work with employers to set up legal clinics to evaluate employee needs. If they qualify, employees are offered reduced rates for legal services, many being domestic, landlord tenant, expungement, and sealing of records issues.

“Employers love this because it reduces the barriers of the employees getting to work,” Levine said. “Now we’ve expanded to working with the prison systems to start that process in advance. By the time they get out, the child support issues and the licenses are in place, reducing those barriers early on.”

Levine is currently working with Hot Chicken Takeover, a new Columbus eatery that hires employees who are re-entering the job market, and food trucks, a segment that has issues with simple contracts, food and safety, and immigration.

“The access to justice gap is the everyday person,” Levine said. “It’s the working class, the mom with two kids and no job, trying to get child support. Anybody who has a legal barrier and can’t figure out how to get help with it. To me, that’s the gap. And access to legal services in general.”

So far they found that flat fees work best, and employers tend to offset a portion of the cost for their employees. The flat fees model is to scalable with the unbundling of legal services.

Yocum and Levine have mobile offices, a trend that continues to rise among new attorneys. Levine runs his law practice from his Surface Pro 4 and currently works out of the Columbus Bar Association incubator.

“We’re very fast and very mobile, and that’s by design,” Levine said.

The CBA offers office space to young attorneys who want to fly solo, but want to stay safe while staying in line with malpractice insurance coverage. The program assists lawyers with office space, practice management, malpractice insurance coverage, and business development tools over a one-year contract.

“At the end of the day it’s what companies need, and it’s what people need,” Levine said. “If we’re doing our jobs right, the community wins.”

Read more about Yocum Levine from the Columbus Bar Association and The Metropreneur.