A legal incubator known as LEAP (Law Entrepreneurs for Access Program) has begun operation. Participants, recent graduates of the University of Baltimore and University of Maryland law schools, will start solo practices and focus on providing affordable legal services to low- and moderate-income Marylanders. (See July 28, 2015, blog post for more information.)
The following is from a Civil Justice news release:
Civil Justice is pleased to announce the launch of the new Law Entrepreneurs for Access Program (“LEAP”), a joint legal incubator project of Civil Justice, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, the University of Baltimore School of Law and the Maryland State Bar Association. The incubator program is funded by the Maryland Bar Foundation and the two law schools. The LEAP program will support recent graduates as they start their own solo practices, providing them with training and mentoring and enabling them to run successful solo practices. The program aims to expand legal services to low- and moderate-income people by having the new attorneys provide affordable legal assistance in areas of unmet legal need.
Two incubator members are recent graduates of the University of Baltimore School of Law:
Kiyanoush Razaghi, LL.M. ’15, is originally from Iran, where he maintained a legal practice. As a solo practitioner and a human rights advocate, Razaghi worked on several pro bono projects, representing clients from the Iranian Bahá’í community, a persecuted religious minority routinely subjected to human rights violations by the Iranian government. Upon his resettlement in the United States, Razaghi studied U.S. law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. His practice will focus primarily on immigration and family law. In addition to English, Razaghi speaks fluent Farsi and French and can read and write in Arabic.
Maya Zegarra, J.D. ’15, a first-generation immigrant from Peru, will focus her practice on immigration law and family law, building on the experience she gained in law school, when she was a student-attorney in UB’s Immigrant Rights Clinic and worked for Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services and a private immigration law firm. Zegarra has a particular interest in assisting children with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and will focus her pro bono work on helping them through the immigration process.
The LEAP program director, Lynette Whitfield, is a solo practitioner in Rockville. Her practice consists primarily of plaintiff-side federal sector labor and employment law, Maryland unemployment and wage and hour cases, federal sector workers’ compensation and domestic litigation. Whitfield has a strong commitment to social justice issues and has donated a large percentage of her time to serving underrepresented communities through the Montgomery County Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Program and the Women’s Law Center of Maryland’s Employment Law Hotline.