Sign up! Join the BALI Community

Sign up! Join the BALI Community

Want to be your own boss? Build a sustainable law practice? Have social impact?


New Incubator Cohorts Start Every February/September, Senior Attorneys Join Year Round

The Bay Area Legal Incubator (BALI) is a social-mission business incubator for solo practitioners serving modest means clients. It is not a firm. It is a community and network.

The program includes a introductory, one-year incubator program to help newer solos and recent law school graduates accelerate the launch of solo practices serving low- and middle-income clients in an array of practice  areas. We also provide opportunity for more experienced solo attorneys to join and benefit as graduate fellows and attorneys in residence. Local communities benefit from legal assistance; attorneys benefit from a shared community, office space and resources, training in emerging best practices and technology, as well as coaching in law, practice management, marketing and substantive law.

BALI is a collaboration between the Alameda County Bar Association, four local law schools (USF, Berkeley, Hastings, and Golden Gate), and the Alameda County Law Library. BALI launched in January 2016 with cohorts comprised of alumni from the collaborative partner schools. Beginning in 2018, BALI attorneys may also include “Free Agents” or attorneys not sponsored by one of the collaborative partner schools, as well as Graduate Fellows and Attorneys in Residence.

BALI onboards new attorneys to our initial one-year incubator program every February and September. Attorneys may apply to stay on beyond that initial year, at BALI's discretion. We also accept a limited number of attorneys in residence - more experienced, solo attorneys who benefit from access to a shared, resourced work environment and business coaching, and who also contribute coaching back to the community - on a rolling basis.


Benefits

Are you:

  • Interested in creating a rewarding career on your own terms?
  • Nervous about starting your own law practice without a community of peers and coaches?
  • Someone who went to law school wanting to make a difference?

If so, consider applying to be a BALI Attorney to get the resources you need.

Participants receive benefits valued up to $35k+ per year

  • In-house coaching in law practice management and business development
  • Assistance developing coaching networks in substantive law and business development
  • Dedicated desk with file storage, shared conference room, and free scanning and black and white prints/copies in BALI’s hub—a co-working space within the Alameda County Law Library in Oakland, three blocks from BART
  • Modest means, fee-generating client referrals from the Alameda County Bar Association (ACBA) Lawyer Referral Service (applicants are advised to research the regular volume of referrals in their areas of practice)
  • Free membership to the Alameda County Bar Association
  • Numerous networking opportunities
  • Free Lexis/Nexis, CEB/OnLaw, Fastcase, and other research tools for a year; free Westlaw access while inside BALI’s hub
  • Free case management software
  • Free continuing legal education units in-house and through PLI and ACBA to accelerate your practice’s growth
  • Access to a community of entrepreneurs also building their practices
  • and much more!

Law school sponsored participants pay no fees for 3 months, then $250/month. Free agents pay $600/month; limited private sponsorships allow fee reduction to law school sponsorship level.

Want to hear more about the benefits of joining BALI? Hear from a few of our attorneys. 


Eligibility

All applicants for our incubator program must demonstrate:

  • An entrepreneurial spirit;
  • Commitment to building and maintaining a low-fee/modest means practice;
  • Commitment to increasing access to justice;
  • Commitment to supporting the growth, development and promotion of BALI’s network of solo and modest means attorneys; and
  • A plan to support oneself while building a solo practice and participating in BALI.

Applicants also are evaluated on the likely success of their modest means practice, as evaluated by review of the applicants’ preparation, skill, and experience.

Applicants must be admitted to, and in good standing with, the State Bar of California at the date of entry into the program.

There are four tracks for applying.

School-Sponsored Attorneys

must be a third year student or a graduate of a participating school to apply. Please contact your school representative for more information. Each participating law school sets its own additional selection criteria and will select graduates for the introductory, one-year incubator program, contingent on minimum, required participation. You will be asked to comply with application requirements and procedures of your participating alma mater.

Free Agent Attorneys

are not sponsored by an individual law school and must apply directly to BALI’s Director for entry into the introductory, one-year incubator program. Contact BALI Director Cynthia Chandler for more information at Cynthia@acbanet.org.

Graduate Fellows

are attorneys who graduated from the introductory, one-year BALI incubator program and apply at the discretion of BALI itself to continue within the BALI program. Graduate fellows both continue to benefit from BALI programming, and contribute to coaching, when applicable. Participation is on a month-to-month basis. Contact BALI Director Cynthia Chandler for more information at Cynthia@acbanet.org.

Attorneys in Residence

are experienced solo attorneys who both benefit from BALI programming, and contribute coaching, when applicable. Participation is on a month-to-month basis. Contact BALI Director Cynthia Chandler for more information at Cynthia@acbanet.org.


Still Have Questions?

Frequently asked questions are addressed in our Participant Handbook or

watch a recent information session featuring a few of our BALI community attorneys.

 


Summary of Types of Participants, Program Fees and Benefits

Type of BALI Participant

Description & Selection

Program Fee

Benefits

Responsibilities

Sponsored Attorney

Participating attorney in the BALI introductory, one-year, incubator program who also is a sponsored alum of one of BALI’s partner law schools: Berkeley Law, Golden Gate Law, Hastings and USF.

School-sponsored applicants apply to and must be selected by participating alma matter law schools. The following school representatives serve on the BALI school advisory board and serve as school-sponsored participants’ primary contact related to BALI with their schools.

  • Berkeley Law, Associate Director for Public Interest/Public Sector Programs Melanie Rowen, mrowen@law.berkeley.edu
  • Golden Gate University School of Law., Director of Employer Outreach, Andrea Loh, aloh@ggu.edu
  • UC Hastings School of Law Hastings School, Associate Director of Public Interest Programs Fairuz Abdullah, abdullah@uchastings.edu
  • USF School of Law, Assistant Dean for Career Planning and Legal Community Engagement Johanna Hartwig, jkhartwig@usfca.edu

No program fee for the first three months of the program year; $250/month for the final 9 months of the program year.

Sponsoring school contributes a sponsorship of $5,000 per person at the start of the program year.

  • Orientation boot camp to help start a solo practice
  • Law practice management, marketing and business training
  • Assisted networking with practitioners skilled in your substantive and procedural areas of law, along with training opportunities in substantive and procedural law
  • On-demand access to business and law practice management coaching with in-house incubator director
  • Free MCLE training opportunities through PLI and the Alameda County Bar Association
  • ACBA Lawyer Referral Service dues waived
  • ACBA membership, including copious opportunities for networking with solos
  • Office space (including dedicated desk, printer/copier, secure internet, shared conference room, and file storage)
  • Free black and white printing and copying (color is charged at $.04/page)
  • Referrals for low-cost malpractice insurance
  • Free Lexis/Nexis, CEB’s On Law, Fastcase and other research tools for a year while in the program
  • Choice of free case management software for a year while in the program
  • Assisted referrals to learn the practice of law while taking on pro bono cases
  • The camaraderie of a community of peers building their own practices
  • Option to apply to be a graduate fellow at the end of the program year; acceptance at the discretion of BALI leadership and based on demonstrated engagement with the BALI community, commitment to modest means solo practice, and benefit of the program to the participant’s practice.
  • Remain in good standing with the bar and licensed to practice in CA
  • Comply with all rules and policies of the BALI program
  • Engage in the BALI community by: mandatory attendance at community meetings, trainings, and events; and maintenance of mutually beneficial business relationships with members of the BALI community.
  • Meet at minimum every 2 weeks with the BALI director
  • Complete 20 hours of substantive law MCLE units in the first 3 months and 52 hours of business MCLE or self-study in the first year
  • Perform 100 hours of pro bono service in the year if performed through 1-2 opportunities, or 150 hours if performed through numerous opportunities, and
  • Commit that at least half your legal time is spent on reduced-fee work for modest means clients, defined as have a household income of 400% poverty level or below
  • Carry malpractice insurance.
  • Cooperate with data collection aiding in the evaluation of the BALI program

Free Agent Attorney

Participating attorney in the BALI introductory, one-year, incubator program who is not sponsored by a partner school, whether or not the attorney is an alum of a sponsoring school.

Free agent participants are not sponsored by an individual law school and must be accepted for participation by BALI itself.

$600/month for the program year, unless a private $5,000 sponsor is identified and then fees mimic that of a sponsored attorney. Sponsorship cannot be guaranteed. In case of limited sponsorships, preference is given to alumni of non-sponsoring schools.

Same as Sponsored Attorney

Same as Sponsored Attorney

Graduate Fellow

An attorney who has graduated from the introductory, one-year, BALI incubator program and continues on within the BALI program. Graduate fellows both continue to benefit from BALI programming, and contribute with coaching, when applicable. Participation is on a month-to-month basis.

Graduate Fellows must apply to and be accepted for participation by BALI itself, not any sponsoring school.

$250/month

Same as Sponsored Attorney, excepting:

  • In-Kind corporate donations are limited and controlled by terms of the donation and may not all be available to all participants after the introductory year
  • Access to in-house business and law practice management coaching by the Program Director limited to one hour per month
  • Participation is on a month-to-month basis and subject to noticed termination by either party.
  • Remain in good standing with the bar and licensed to practice in CA
  • Comply with all rules and policies of the BALI program
  • Engage in the BALI community by: optional attendance in community meetings; and maintenance of mutually beneficial business relationships with members of the BALI community
  • Provide up to one hour a month total in informal coaching to BALI participants on an as needed basis.
  • Maintain commitment to serving modest means legal clients
  • Carry malpractice insurance
  • Cooperate with data collection aiding in the evaluation of the BALI program

Attorney in Residence

An experienced solo attorney who both benefits from the BALI programming, and contributes coaching, when applicable. Participation is on a month-to-month basis.

Attorneys in residence are accepted for participation by BALI itself.

$350/month

Same as Graduate Fellow

 

Same as Graduate Fellow