Login | May 23, 2019

Akron Bar seeks to add attorneys to its Barberton incubator

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 27, 2017

It’s been just over two years since the Akron Bar Association launched its Barberton Incubator Program, which provides new lawyers who want to start their own practices with office space and other tools at little cost.

Two attorneys recently completed the incubator program. The Akron Bar Association is now looking to add up to three new lawyers.

“Our incubator program does not provide everything that a solo practitioner might need, but we do a very good job of covering the basics,” said Akron Bar Association President David Lewis, a director and shareholder at Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co.

“Participants have access to office space, furniture and other equipment, legal research tools and most importantly a mentor who they can go to for advice on legal matters.”

Attorney Mark Hilkert has served as the program’s mentor since it began in September 2015.

“I did mostly civil litigation throughout my career so I can answer any questions that pertain to that area and any questions about the rules of procedure,” said Hilkert, who retired from The Scanlon Group at the end of December 2014. “If I cannot answer a question myself, I can direct the incubator attorneys to other Akron attorneys who will be able to assist. I have found other local Akron attorneys are more than willing and even eager to help these young lawyers. Akron has a very supportive legal community.

“The incubator provides participants a chance to develop their practices without the high costs associated with maintaining an office,” said Hilkert. “We ask for an 18-month commitment and usually by the end of that period the attorneys have enough clients to go it alone.”

Those who are part of the incubator are given free rent for the first six months and pay $250 per month for the next six months. During the final portion of their stay, they pay $500 a month.

The office is located at 103 Fifth St. SE in Barberton. The Akron Bar Association leases the space from the Barberton Community Development Corporation.

To qualify, an attorney must have had a license for five years or less and be looking to start a solo or small firm practice in Summit County.

Berea, Ohio native Tadd Pinkston started at the incubator in April 2017, after working six months at LegalWorks in Cleveland, a nonprofit legal services clinic. 

“The incubator has been very helpful to me since I am new to the practice of law,” said Pinkston.

“Having my own space and access to a mentor has been great. Mark has introduced me to some judges and I’ve been able to talk to them before I enter their courtroom, which helps to eliminate some of the anxiety associated with entering a courtroom where everyone is unfamiliar.”

Pinkston received his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from The College of Wooster.

“As an undergraduate I was involved in the moot court program,” said Pinkston. “I didn’t decide I wanted to be a lawyer until my junior year of college. I was debating between becoming a historian or a lawyer, but I enjoyed oral argument so much that I went with law.”

He graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in May 2016 and said he was “flirting with the idea” of becoming a solo practitioner.

“I really loved the work I was doing at LegalWorks, but I wanted to see if I could make it on my own.

“I want to do appellate law so I am focusing my practice on criminal appellate law,” he said.

“I am very thankful to the Akron Bar Association for all the support I’ve received.”

Pinkston will complete the incubator program in October 2018. He said he is committed to having a solo practice, but he is not sure where his office will be located.

“I don’t know if I will have a physical office in the area but I will certainly continue to practice in Summit County no matter where I go,” said Pinkston.

Attorney Lisa Owings started at the incubator in October 2016.

The Oklahoma City native received her bachelor’s degree in legal studies from Bellevue University in Nebraska and her juris doctor from The University of Akron School of Law in May 2015. She also has an LL.M. in Intellectual Property from Akron Law.

“I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since third grade when I wrote an essay that won an award from the Oklahoma Bar,” said Owings. “In high school I was on the mock trial team and we almost got the chance to argue before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. That really sealed the deal for me. I had no doubts that I wanted to be a lawyer after that.”

Prior to beginning at the incubator, Owings said she did try to start her own practice, but found it very difficult.

“I had office space available to me, but it was hard to find clients and I did not know where to look,” she said. “I had owned a real estate investment business (Terroir) in Nebraska before starting law school, but it was much different than having a legal practice.

“I knew I needed assistance so when I learned about the incubator, I applied,” she said. “The first day I got three clients.”

Owings, who is working on a master’s degree in cybersecurity at Bellevue University, is focusing her practice on intellectual property law.

“Both of my parents were computer programmers and I wanted to do something that focused on computers as well,” said Owings. “IP is the closest I could come to that.”

In addition to the assistance she’s received from Hilkert, Owings said being in an office with other sole practitioners has been helpful.

“It’s easy to share information and answer one another’s questions since we are in the same space,” said Owings, who expects to complete the program in April 2018. “Once I get more established, I would like to mentor other solo practitioners.”

Lewis said the incubator is just one of the ways that the bar association seeks to give back to the legal community, while building a bridge with future generations of lawyers.

“Times have changed and we need to look toward the future of the profession in order to protect the legacy of the Akron lawyer,” said Lewis. “The incubator is one way we are successfully doing just that.”

Anyone interested in applying for the Barberton Incubator should contact Akron Bar Association Executive Director C. Allen Nichols at callen@akronbar.org or call 330 -253 - 5007.