Bridging the ‘justice gap’

Posted on: November 20th, 2013

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin profiles Conor Malloy, a LUC theology graduate, who has received funding from the Chicago Bar Foundation to support his Justice Entrepreneurs Project. Dubbed a ‘legal incubator,’ the project seeks to provide assistance to people with incomes too high to access legal aid services, but too low to afford a private lawyer.

““The traditional approaches obviously haven’t worked well enough for there to be people with law degrees going into this stuff,” said Harper, a member of the steering committee. “One of the hopes is that this program will be able to build a sustainable and more efficient model.”

Malloy, the former theology student, offers a glimpse of how a new generation of lawyers may be able to build a lower-cost practice. He has written his own software that allows him to handle much of his clients’ needs with the click of a mouse.

“When I’m preparing these motions for people, it’s stuff that I can churn out,” said Malloy, who handles cases involving divorce and child custody.

“You give me all your information, I can click a button and I send you the intake letter. (Another click) and you will have the engagement letter, an engagement invoice and a link to my law pay. And it’s all quick.”

It’s also a money-saver.

Malloy lists flat fees — $125 for a petition for child support and $75 for a response, for instance — and also offers “unbundled” legal services. Only allowed by the Illinois Supreme Court since June, such services allow lawyers to represent clients in a less thorough and less expensive way.

For instance, it allows lawyers to draft motions for clients but not appear as that client’s counsel of record.

In other words, it helps clients — who would otherwise fall in the justice gap — get an amount of lawyering they can afford, which is key to sustaining lawyers providing services at these lower rates. It also changes the lawyer’s role.

“I have to think about the best way to give you the justice you can afford,” Malloy said.”

Read more at the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.


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