Law in Contemporary Society

Planning My Practice

-- By AimeePacheco - 5 June 2022

The Founding

“Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, “Where?”

My Positionality and The Vision
I have slowly begun building a practice for more than 10 years now. My ultimate goal is to bring more legal accessibility to underrepresented immigrants and workers in the rural South by providing legal resources, tools, education, and legal services. As a first-generation, low-income, pansexual, Indigenous (Maya K'iche') Latina, oldest daughter of immigrants, care-giver, survivor of sexual violence, and community organizer born and raised in rural Georgia, I believe that my life experiences and identities give me a unique positionality in this work.
My Partners
My partners, for better or worse, will include my family members. At the very base and inspiration of this very plan are my immigrant parents, who came to this country 26 years ago to provide a better life for their families and themselves. They have already given this future organization so much by providing me and my siblings with all the tools and opportunities to have the best education, and yet, they will nonetheless want to be involved in all the community organizing work. My 21-year-old brother is studying business administration to run our finances. My 16-year-old sister aspires to fall in the same footsteps as me, by becoming an attorney.

Since I will be waiting for my youngest sister to graduate with her J.D. and take the bar exam, I anticipate our practice taking off in ten years, which gives me plenty of time to figure out the finances and prepare. As the organization grows, I envision my other partners all being immigrants or children of immigrants themselves, BIPOC, first-gen, from the South, and/or queer. While I come from a tight-knit family and predict my other partners will also feel like family, it will be important to set boundaries to make it clear that we are first and foremost professional when it comes to business.

Location, Location, Location
This practice will go against every rule on where a practice should be located to create value and attract business. Given the nature of the work, my practice will be located in rural Georgia, with people from and familiar with rural Georgia. Once the organization grows, I hope to expand into other rural towns across Southern states, by either replicating the same model or helping locals set up their own practice given what makes most sense within their respective states.

I anticipate the biggest challenge with the location of the practice(s) to be transportation – either because of distance or the cost (whether for gas or to pay someone else for driving) or from clients not having a drivers’ license, not being able to take days off work, needing a babysitter, or a number of other difficulties immigrants deal with daily. For this, the organization will budget for a transportation fund and recruit and vet volunteer drivers to create a free transportation system for clients. The organization will also have a room full of books, tv, and toys, exclusively for child care.

Planning My Practice

Establishing the Foundations

Development/ Funding (“How?”)
My biggest issue is figuring out how to do the work without charging clients for the services but still making enough money to run the business with adequate pay and insurance benefits to all employees. My plan is to create a “Funding Sources” spreadsheet with every relevant grant and donor application. One challenge, will be to find sources that will not ask the organization to comprise its values or goals — they have to be able to see the vision. Since the organization’s work will cover immigration law, criminal law, and labor law, the scope will be broad. This creates another challenge: managing expectations with funders by defining boundaries and guidelines to not overpromise or overcommit by taking on more projects than the team can handle.
Prior to hiring any more staff, the organization has to create a clear vision with a strong mission statement. This mission statement will be the foundation for all the branding on the website, social media pages, printed material (business cards, brochures, advertisements), and grant writing. From my limited experience in calls with newly-founded nonprofits and other organizations and potential donors, I learned just how important it is to be able to state an organization’s mission in a hundred different ways. While the central message will remain the same, information can be slightly tweaked, with different parts of the vision being more emphasized depending on the audience. We will want to find the similarities we have with other organizations – the common values and shared passions – to be able to connect and collaborate better. Once the message is clear, it will be easier to take steps towards 501(c)(3) non-profit status.

Building the Skills

How Can Law School Prepare Me and What Can I Do Now?
As I embark on this legal journey, I hope to be equipped with more tools that will allow me to better advocate for my communities. I plan on taking the courses and participating in all activities directly relevant to my practice. This means learning about the various fields of law that immigration intersects with: criminal law, family law, international law, labor law, health law, and more. Continuing to build my practice in law school also means strengthening my legal writing, reading, and researching skills.

This upcoming fall, I will be participating in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and plan to then take the Advanced Immigrants' Rights Clinic to take my skills to the next level. Lastly, I plan to continue my involvement with the legal and immigrant communities in Georgia, brainstorm ideas, write mission statement drafts, learn about different nonprofit and funding models, and figure out all the steps I will need to take to get the organization on the ground and running.

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Webs Webs

r3 - 05 Jun 2022 - 20:12:06 - AimeePacheco
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