Every day, litigants go to court without representation, uninformed of the law or how to effectively navigate our legal system. Many others start businesses, enter into transactions and execute documents without a complete understanding of their legal rights or whether their actions are legally enforceable. These people represent the “justice gap” — those in need of legal services without the resources to purchase them. In a justice system reliant on advocacy, with a general principal that we want parties on equal footing, a growing justice gap is a societal problem that needs attention. While various measures will be necessary across our legal community to effectively represent those in need, if we’re to meaningfully eliminate the justice gap, our private bar must play a significant role. That’s where Lawyers for Affordable Justice (LAJ) comes in.

LAJ is a legal incubator jointly started by Northeastern University School of Law, Boston College Law School and Boston University School of Law with the purpose of helping recently licensed solo attorneys meet the needs of the justice gap while remaining profitable. LAJ was operated jointly for two years before launching as an independent nonprofit. LAJ provides a structured environment in which the participating lawyers have access to technology, networking opportunities and mentors to provide guidance and support in both the business of practicing law and their chosen substantive areas. This joint venture was overseen by the clinical directors of each participating law schools, all of whom were instrumental in the launch of the nonprofit organization. Today, LAJ is led by Executive Director Carole Wagan (CW Consulting) and board members Damian Turco (Turco Legal and JusticeApp), Paul Tremblay and Jim Rowan.

Are you in the justice gap and need legal services?

To learn more about how we can help you find legal representation or how you can refer cases to LAJ, contact us:

Spotlight: Attorney Shauna Segadelli Hoogendoorn

PersonsAttorney Shauna Segadelli Hoogendern ’15
Providing affordable criminal defense and immigration representation on a flat fee model. These two practice areas overlap often and, when they do, the combined knowledge and expertise can be critical.

Our Purpose

LAJ’s goal is to support, nurture and train entrepreneurial new lawyers in innovative practice methods to encourage them to serve low- and moderate-income clients who cannot afford conventional legal services in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England. Participants must demonstrate a strong interest in solo practice and are carefully selected through a competitive application process.

LAJ helps its participants turn unmet need into profitable practices. Policymakers and other observers have for years noted the growing crisis of clients with important legal needs who cannot afford a traditional lawyer to assist them. Employees with wage claims and other work-related injustices forego remedies because of the lack of lawyers. Beginning businesses struggle with confusing regulatory hurdles. Tenants don’t know where to turn for help getting their landlords to provide the most basic services. Immigrants seeking to reunite with family or secure legal status in the United States are faced with complex and confusing immigration laws. LAJ supports practices that focus on these areas of need: criminal defense, immigrants’ rights, divorce, family law, employment matters, small business/transactional issues and landlord/tenant disputes.

LAJ addresses the challenges facing underserved populations by helping new lawyers sustain practices that serve primarily low- and moderate-income clients, relying on efficient and technologically savvy means of delivering legal services at low cost. LAJ assists these new lawyers in developing successful businesses, while at the same time mentoring them about many aspects of solo or small-firm life. For those lawyers accepted into LAJ, the residency program provides office space for client meetings, collaboration and training sessions, with access to necessary technology for the lawyers’ practices. LAJ also provides mentoring to the new lawyers on substantive law topics, technology systems and law office management.

Recent Grads: 

Learn to Start a Successful Practice and Complete a Business Plan: