embrace it will not survive the tide.
Steve Jobs said, “Sometimes when you
innovate, you make mistakes. It is best
to admit them quickly and get on with
improving your other innovations.”
In another famous example, Thomas
Edison was interviewed by a reporter
who boldly asked Mr. Edison if he felt
like a failure and if he thought he should
just give up. Perplexed, Edison replied,
“Young man, why would I feel like a
failure? And why would I ever give up? I
now know definitively over 9,000 ways
that an electric light bulb will not work.
Success is almost in my grasp.” And
shortly after that, and over 10,000 at-
tempts, Edison invented the light bulb.
Our fear of change, of failure, and
of risk must give way to our will to succeed. And while it is true that innovation derives from failure, fortunately
the process does not require great risk
for any of us.
Imagine if we as a profession cre-
ated an incubator for new legal business
models. What if we had an R&D depart-
ment at the WSBA to test models and to
build a successful prototype business
model? What if legal educators, practic-
ing lawyers, the access to justice com-
munity, and others in the trenches of the
profession partnered together to design
a business model powered by a new gen-
eration of skill-diverse lawyers? What if
we produced lawyers serving low- and
moderate-income clients to become not
just good advocates, but good business-
people who would both thrive and pros-
per in the new economy?
These ideas can be reality. At City
University in New York, Fred Rooney
started an incubator for low bono attorneys in 2007. In his program, lawyers pay rent for shared space for 12–18
months while training in business skills
and professional development. The program has now expanded to nine incubators run by Rooney and more are starting up around the country.
Closer to home, the WSBA has part-
nered with Washington’s three law
schools to provide services to those
with moderate means. Seattle Univer-
sity School of Law has also launched a
new program and taken steps towards
actually creating a new business model.
Its new Low Bono and Solo Initiative
program provides training, guidance,
and resources to help new lawyers
launch practices designed to assist low-
bono clients. Alumni are trained for a
year with up to $3,000 funding to cre-
ate and sustain a low bono solo practice.
A New Business Model
We as a profession need to imagine
a new way to do business. We need to
imagine a working business model that
partners with other legal service providers that embraces current and future
technology and serves the enormous
market of unmet need. Most importantly, we need to imagine a business model
that defines success with real sustainable profits, justice, and greater access.
Right now, there are those in our legal community right on the front lines
in small offices who are forging the path
towards this new model. You are creative. You have the will to innovate, and
the necessity to succeed. And you are
driving our future.
You know who you are and I want
to meet you. I invite you to share your
model, your tools, and your ideas. Call
me. Write me. Find me on Facebook
or Twitter (@PalaceLaw). Let me hear
about your vision and your story. We are
all in this together and you may hold a
piece to the solution or the best answer.
The more we build together, the
sooner we succeed together. Let’s commit our Bar to being an incubator that
supports young entrepreneurs and
solo and small practices, innovates
new models, blends new technology,
builds profitable and sustainable practices, and brings real access to those in
need. Join me. Join the conversation.
Imagination is everything. It is the
preview of life’s coming attractions.
— Albert Einstein
WSBA President Patrick A. Palace
practices in Tacoma. He can be reached
at email@example.com or 253-627-
We as a profession need to imagine a new way to do
business . . . to imagine a working business model
that partners with other legal service providers that
embraces current and future technology and serves
the enormous market of unmet need.