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Starting and Building Your Law Practice in a Pandemic World

Speaker(s): Anne-Marie Rábago, Cynthia Chandler, Erin Joyce, Maria E. Hall
Recorded on: Aug. 18, 2020
PLI Program #: 306188

Anne-Marie Rábago is Director of the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator (TOJI) and the State Bar of Texas Law Practice Management Program. TOJI is an Austin, Texas based lawyer incubator program that started in April 2017 with a focus on bridging the justice gap by providing an innovative approach to legal access. As Director of the first and largest state-wide incubator program in Texas, Anne-Marie empowers recently licensed attorneys to build sustainable solo practices serving low- and modest-income Texans.

Prior to her work with the State Bar of Texas, Anne-Marie served as Director of the Access to Law Incubator at California Western School of Law (CWSL). In addition, she was an Adjunct Professor of Federal Income Tax at CWSL and a Faculty member for Solo Practice University where she teaches solo and small firm attorneys about tax requirements for their legal businesses.

In 2009, Anne-Marie started Rábago Business & Tax Law, APC, and over the following seven years, she advised hundreds of small business owners on tax and legal compliance matters. In her practice, she focused on the distinguishing characteristics and individual circumstances of each business and was committed to helping her clients simplify their obligations, ease their tax concerns, and build strong financial futures. Before stepping into the legal industry, she held various professional roles including fundraising for two regional theatre companies, sales management for an international retail chain, recruiting and corporate training for a Fortune 100 financial services company, and international tax consulting for a big-4 public accounting firm. These experiences inform Anne-Marie’s business and tax savvy and made her an invaluable team member for her business clients.

Anne-Marie is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Member of the American Bar Association where she is actively involved with the Section of Taxation. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Section’s Tax Practice Management Committee, is past Chair of the Young Lawyers Forum, and received the Section’s prestigious Nolan Fellowship Award in 2014.

After completing her JD at CWSL, she received an LLM in Taxation from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Anne-Marie is licensed to practice law in California and Texas.

Cynthia Chandler is the Director of BALI | Bay Area Legal Incubator, where she describes her work as 90% fairy godmother and 10% fixer – she helps to make attorneys’ dreams come true while keeping them out of trouble and promoting social justice. BALI is a social-mission legal incubator that supports emerging solo practitioners in accelerating the launch of affordable law practices serving low- and moderately-incomed communities. BALI is an Oakland, CA based project of the Alameda County Bar Association’s Volunteer Legal Services Corporation, in collaboration with five San Francisco Bay Area law schools and the Alameda County Law Library. As Director, Cynthia is responsible for establishing systems, training and opportunities to accelerate participating attorneys’ practice development, as well as managing the daily operations of BALI.

Cynthia has over 20 years’ experience as a social entrepreneur, launching and building innovative social justice organizations. As an attorney, her practice has been equally innovative: when the law does not allow for the relief she seeks for her clients, she changes it. For example, after founding Women's Positive Legal Action Network in 1995 - the first organization advocating for women living with HIV and facing imprisonment - she helped craft and introduce compassionate release legislation, creating the statutory mechanism for terminally ill people to be released from prison before they die. This model legislation was replicated nationally.

Cynthia currently maintains a legislative practice, regularly conceptualizing and contributing to key legislation aimed at shrinking the prison system and its harms. Cynthia also coaches entrepreneurs on how to realize and sustain their visions for building community-based social ventures that ally with communities to make real change. She currently is an Adjunct Professor at Golden Gate University School of Law, where she inspires the next generation of radical lawyers.

Cynthia has received numerous awards for her work empowering and representing people in California’s prisons. Among them, in 2015 Cynthia was awarded the prestigious Fay Stender Award from California Women Lawyers. In 2005, she was named by Women's Health Activist Network a Top 30 Activist for Women's Health. Cynthia received the 2001 Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award. And in 1997, she was designated the Attorney to Whom California Can Be Most Grateful by California Law Business.

Cynthia received her JD from Harvard Law School and a MPhil in Criminology from University of Cambridge.

Cynthia is the mother of two activist daughters. She learns from them daily.

Maria E. Hall is a civil rights lawyer and director of the Los Angeles Incubator Consortium, a legal incubator that equips UCLA, Southwestern and Loyola Law School graduates with the tools to launch community-based, solo law practices.  After graduating from USC Gould School of Law in 2003, she received a post-graduate fellowship to work as a staff attorney for Communities for a Better Environment, a grassroots environmental justice organization in South East Los Angeles.  In 2005, she opened her own practice, representing lower and moderate income clients in the areas of civil rights, housing and employment.  She currently serves as Co-President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and Vice President of the Board of the Mexican American Bar Foundation.