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COM M U N I T Y CO N N E C T I O N Collaborative Community Law Initiative By Karin Ciano and Nelson L. Peralta CCLI Attorney Inti Martinez-Alemán assists clients at his office. The justice gap is no secret. But one of the more innovative ways to close it—the legal incubator—is starting to attract attention in Minnesota. Legal incubators guide recent law graduates into solo practices that serve low- and moderate-income people who are financially ineligible for free legal assistance, yet cannot afford market rates for civil legal services. Many of these clients go without representation as few attorneys provide sliding-scale “low bono” services. Ten years ago, the nation’s first legal incubator launched in New York. Now, over 60 of these incubators exist in the United States and internationally. Minnesota’s first—the Collaborative Community Law Initiative (CCLI)— opened its doors in St. Paul in November 2016 after several years of planning by dedicated volunteers. Hamline University School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law founded CCLI in 2013 as a collaborative venture. 38 HENNEPIN LAWYER SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 Now, CCLI is helping graduates of Mitchell Hamline School of Law forge pathways into community-based solo practice. CCLI trains new attorneys (“advocates”) to provide low bono services. New lawyers starting solo practices often lack two things critical to success: mentorship and clients. CCLI’s mission is to provide advocates with both. Over an 18-month period, the advocates open their firms, represent clients and earn fees. CCLI’s advocates maintain a caseload that is at least 30 percent low bono in an area of significant need (family, immigration, housing, criminal expungement, entity formation, and occupational licensing). CCLI trains the advocates to develop innovative, client-focused and culturally- sensitive practices that provide quality legal services at a cost that will not price out low- to moderate-income Minnesotans. Experienced lawyers train and mentor the advocates in practice management, substantive law, and legal ethics. CCLI is not a law firm. It is an educational nonprofit focused on mentoring and training new lawyers. By building relationships with nonprofits, bar associations, and lawyers, CCLI connects potential clients with advocates.