The Rural Incubator Project for Lawyers (RIPL) is a 24-month program designed to train and support attorneys as they develop and launch new solo and small firm law practices.
Through RIPL, attorneys will have the opportunity to enhance access to justice by offering affordable and pro bono legal services to low- and moderate-income Montanans and tribal members living in underserved, rural communities. Together, we can innovate for the future of legal practice in Montana.
We are now accepting applications for the 2019 RIPL program. Applications are due January 28, 2019, and the Spring Business Bootcamp is scheduled for March 4-8, 2019. To apply, submit a letter of interest and resume to [email protected] Click here for a full description of the fellowship opportunity and application requirements.
We seek 2 to 4 new attorneys with less than 5 years of practice experience for each class, although we are willing to waive this restriction for the right candidate. RIPL participants will:
- Provide substantial pro bono and modest means services to low- and moderate-income Montanans and tribal members
- Participate in all RIPL programming, including: CLE sessions, roundtables, and mentorship meetings.
- Form their own independent solo or small firm law practice that operates directly in a rural community or offers remote rural services.
RIPL offers four different levels of commitment that are designed to meet applicants’ interests and needs. Depending on level of commitment, MLSA will offer: a modest startup stipend; free participation in the RIPL program; participation in the program and rental office space at a reduced rate; or access to all CLEs provided through RIPL. For more information, please download the information and application packet.
Business Boot Camp. The participants first CLE sessions include an intensive one-week program on: rural practice in Montana, access to justice considerations, market analysis, entity selection and formation, law practice management, legal services delivery options, business planning, marketing, and financing, and technology and resources. On the final day, participants are prepared to file the paperwork and establish their law practice.
Continuing Legal Education. Participants attend bi-weekly continuing legal education (“CLE”) sessions focused on substantive areas of law, practical skills, and lawyer well-being.
MLSA Pro Bono Residency. Through the Pro Bono Residency, participants gain invaluable skills and experience in delivering legal services, including limited scope representation; client communication; client representation; court appearances; file management and case documentation; and practical experience in substantive areas of law. Hour requirements vary based on level of commitment.
Mentorship and Case Roundtables. RIPL will match participants with practicing and retired lawyers and judges related to participants’ areas of interest, location, or other relevant criteria. Participants attend weekly case review roundtables with MLSA staff attorneys, mentors, experienced lawyers, and judges.
Practice Resources and Office Space. Access to practice resources including: free or discounted case management software; form briefs and example pleadings; and legal research materials. Participants will also have access to free or discounted office space.
Client Referral Services. Participants will have free or discounted participation in the Modest Means Program and the Montana Lawyer Referral & Information Service that connect prospective clients in need of low-cost legal services with Participants.
Malpractice Insurance. While engaged in pro bono and modest means services referred by MLSA, Participants are covered by MLSA’s malpractice insurance. However, Participants must maintain malpractice insurance for their solo practice for clients served outside the scope of the MLSA Pro Bono Residency and modest means referrals.
Student Loan Repayment Assistant. The Montana Justice Foundation will offer RIPL Fellows a student loan repayment assistant through its Loan Repayment Assistant Program (LRAP).