The Center for Solo Practitioners Open House
- David Gibbs, Esther Hyun, Andrea Carter, Ronza Rafo, Joseph Willmore, Michelle Bos, Kirra O'Toole, David Meyer
- Professor Lilys McCoy, Dean Thomas Guernsey and wife Kathe Klare
- (left) Former Solo Practitioner Ben Aguilar ‘11 and (right) Ronza Rafo '12
- (right) Andrea Carter '08
- (center) Esther Hyun '13
- (center) Kirra O'toole
- (center) David Gibbs ‘12
- (center) Joseph Willmore
- Former Solo Practitioner Hannah Bingham '10
In honor of its second year, The Center for Solo Practitioners held its annual open house.
“The Solo Practitioners Open House on Wednesday, April 2 was a great event,” said David Gibbs ‘12. “It gave us an opportunity to show our family, friends, and colleagues our office space in a casual environment. It was a nice way for everyone to learn about the Center for Solo Practitioners and to learn more about our individual practices.”
“It was gratifying to engage with friends and members of the community and to inform them about my practice, its focus and goals at the Solo Practitioners Open House,” said Andrea Carter '08. “I received an outpouring of congratulations, support and warm wishes from many, which was very touching, especially from clients.”
“When I announced the opening of my business and nonprofit law practice, I received a tremendous amount of support and words of encouragement from my friends, colleagues, and law school professors,” said Esther Hyun ‘13. “It was great to share a lovely evening with them and thank them for their support.”
The Center for Solo Practitioners is a Lawyer Incubator Program designed specifically and exclusively for Thomas Jefferson School of Law alumni, the TJSL center supports new solo practitioners as they establish their own law offices.
“Starting my law firm has been challenging, but very rewarding,” said Joseph Willmore '11. “The center has been integral in my transition from ‘big law’ firm life to the complexities of building my own business.”
“So far my experience in the program has involved receiving mentorship and practical assistance on a weekly basis, taking new cases, networking and learning as much as I can around the clock,” said Andrea Carter. “As a new Solo Practitioner I find myself busy, with many questions and also getting great feedback and support from clients, colleagues and friends.”
The program encourages new solos to become leaders in their community by developing ways to reach traditionally underserved populations with much-needed legal services.
“I couldn't be more proud of Thomas Jefferson School of Law,” said Ronza Rafo '12. “The Center for Solo Practitioners is yet another example of how caring and hardworking TJSL is when it comes to its students and alumni. All of the attorneys I work with at the center are professional, smart, and committed. I feel like TJSL prepared us all very well to possess such skills and I am so glad to be in working in such an environment.”
Every year, the program welcomes six to ten lawyers who have a desire to establish their own law practices.
Ben Aguilar ‘11 participated in the program last year. “This environment was a great support network,” said Aguilar. “It was extremely helpful to come to work and have other attorneys to discuss cases with and get second opinions. As a result of joining the program, I have made some wonderful new friends and we have shared important milestones in our personal and professional lives. I am looking forward to continue working with this group of incredibly talented attorneys.
Because of the experience gained by his participation in the Incubator Program, Aguilar is expanding his business. “I just opened a second office location in Imperial County, so the plan is to continue growing my family law and immigration practice.”
While building their practices, the lawyers are encouraged to provide pro-bono and low-bono services to increase the access to civil legal services for those in need. While providing those legal services, the incubator lawyers gain valuable legal experience.
“The center is devoted to two principles,” said Director of the Center for Solo Practitioners and Solo Practice Concentration Professor Lilys McCoy. “The first is that everyone should have access to justice. People shouldn’t be denied legal representation because they have too little, or for that matter, because you have too much. The second principle is that lawyers provide a tremendous service to society, but for lawyers to meet this noble obligation they themselves need support, mentoring, continuing education and they need each other.”
“I would like to add a big thank you to Professor Lilys McCoy,” said David Gibbs. “She has been a fantastic mentor and role model. I am incredibly grateful for all she has done for me and for Thomas Jefferson School of Law.”
“My experience as a Solo Practitioner has been great,” said David Meyer. “The Center has provided me with resources to get my practice going and keep it moving forward. I can't thank Professor McCoy enough.”
“Lilys McCoy has been an outstanding mentor,” said Aguilar. “Her dedication to the program has made this project a success. I also want to thank Professor Luz Herrera for her vision. Her work and her vision really inspire and motivate me to continue working to serve underserved litigants and really make a difference.”
The lawyers work together in a collaborative setting in the offices of the San Diego Family Justice Center Alliance in downtown San Diego.