On November 9, 2015, we welcomed the first of our second corps of Resident Attorneys, Megan McLaurin Hunter. Even before news outlets were reporting on studies linking the close proximity of shale gas development to premature births, Megan had applied to the Fair Shake Residency Program proposing a practice that brings together her interconnected interests in environmental and reproductive justice. Like the start-up of Fair Shake and the work of the first set of Resident Attorneys in our program, Megan hopes to create a space where a diverse client base can affordably access necessary services, but Megan hopes to consistently practice at the crossroads of women’s health and environmental issues. We couldn’t be more excited that she’s up to the entrepreneurial challenge of forging (read “inventing”) a new access to justice path.
Megan joins Fair Shake at a time when we are starting to understand the full range of possibilities for a modest means lawyering residency program. Over the course of the last year and a half, Fair Shake has taken on over 100 client matters for individuals and organizations with incredibly diverse needs in the universe of environmental legal needs. At the outset, we chose a systematic approach to determining what “affordable” means for potential clients given what “market” rates appear to be for (at least) loosely similar services and what kind of reduction is necessary based on the client's financial status. And we’re not the only ones engaged in this endeavor to run a sustainable law practice by serving modest means clients.
While law schools appear to be starting incubator programs largely to address a difficult employment market, there are now practitioners and law firms starting up with a focus on “sliding scale” practices, such as Two Rivers Law, Open Legal Services, and Community Justice, Inc.. Fair Shake exists somewhere in between those models. I like to say that we’re incubating a movement: a new generation of attorneys who can sustainably fill the gap in legal representation for those who cannot afford market-rate legal services.
It’s an exciting time to be part of this movement. And we’re thrilled that Megan has decided to contribute to it. Please welcome her at firstname.lastname@example.org.