The American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division has presented TJSL’s Small Business Law Center (SBLC) with the division’s Solo and Small Firm Project Award.
The ABA award, which honors bar leaders and associations for their successful implementation of a project or program specifically targeted to solo and small-firm lawyers, was presented on August 9 at the GPSolo Division’s Military Dining Out event during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
“The mission of the Small Business Law Center at Thomas Jefferson School of Law is an exciting example of providing law students with practical skills opportunities that support community economic development in low-income communities as in San Diego County,” GPSolo Chair Benes Z. Aldana said. “ABA GPSolo is proud to honor SBLC’s effort to provide legal assistance to those in need of legal advice and also foster the preparation of lawyers in solo and small-firm practices.”
“All of us at the SBLC are thrilled to be recognized for our efforts,” said TJSL Professor Luz Herrera, the founder and director of the SBLC. “My experience in setting up my own law practice was difficult and lonely. Through the process I began to understand what law schools could do differently to better support attorneys who set up their own law business. I am fortunate to work with colleagues in the SBLC who share my interest and concern for our graduates. We are proud to call TJSL our home.”
According to the ABA’s official news release:
“The SBLC provides legal assistance to entrepreneurs, artists, small businesses and nonprofit organizations that do not have the financial means to hire a lawyer or are underrepresented. Under the supervision of California-licensed attorneys, law students assist clients with their legal needs. The components of the SBLC include the Art and Entertainment Law Project, the Community Economic Development Clinic, the Patent Clinic and the Trademark Clinic. This underrepresented community also includes many students who need guidance to establish viable law practices after passing the bar.
“The SBLC is one of various programs at TJSL designed to encourage students to think about what will be required of them to start their own law firms. The SBLC encourages students to enroll in the solo practice concentration and to consider applying to the TJSL Center for Solo Practitioners, a lawyer incubator program. The Center for Solo Practitioners is a post-graduate program designed to help alumni develop law practices devoted to the representation of people who are traditionally cut off from legal services and denied access to justice.”
TJSL’s SBLC is really several law clinics under one roof. The clinics provide legal assistance to entrepreneurs, artists, inventors, small businesses and non-profit organizations that do not have the financial means to hire a lawyer. Under the supervision of California licensed attorneys, law students assist clients with their legal needs. Components of the SBLC include the Art and Entertainment Law Project, the Community Economic Development Clinic, the Patent Clinic and the Trademark Clinic. Thomas Jefferson School of Law is currently the only law school in California to have both a patent clinic and a trademark clinic that are certified by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Professor Herrera attributes this award to the teamwork of SBLC staff and students, particularly Professor Slattery, clinic attorney Becky Nieman and administrative assistant Edith Polanco.