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There’s a wealth gap in the United States that creates an inequality in access to law and justice. This isn’t merely a political question; it’s an issue of economics, policy, and culture. The American Bar Association’s World Justice Project noted in 2012 that while the United States obtains “high marks in the most dimensions of the rule of law,” the civil justice system remains “inaccessible to disadvantaged groups [. . . L]egal assistance is expensive or unavailable.” The gap is present in Florida as well, as free legal aid has only addressed about 20% of the legal needs of low-income populations, and middle-income families are stuck in a gap because they cannot qualify for free legal aid but cannot afford a private attorney.
Too many of our most vulnerable groups are affected: veterans and servicemembers; children; the disabled; and the elderly. Instead of wondering why we have too many lawyers, we need to focus on where the need for lawyers hasn’t gone away.
After serving my country overseas in Iraq, getting law school paid 100% by the 9/11 GI Bill, gaining valuable experience in private and non-profit law firms, becoming trained as an Army Judge Advocate, and receiving the support and advice of my wonderful wife Gretchen, I opened Highlands Legal Solutions (“HLS”) in mid-2018. Following a model similar to a number of non-profit, “low bono” law firms and organizations out of Utah, Illinois, Texas, and across several law schools, HLS offers fees tailored to a client’s situation based on objective standards. Unlike the other firms and organizations, however, HLS is a Social Purpose law firm – a type of corporation that permits profit-seeking, avoids costly non-profit compliance issues, yet preserves the mission of charitable and public service projects.
I chose this hybrid model because I have worked in all types of profit and non-profit organizations – private law firms, non-profit organizations, state government, and federal government. I have also worked in many different levels and positions – as a customer service representative, information management assistant, military logistician, non-profit intern, elder law associate attorney, and company commander. HLS is an attempt to marry the best of each experience – the entrepreneurship of private organizations, the massive advantages of technology in the 21st century, the efficiency and urgency of combat logistics, the aspirational goals of non-profit organizations, and the processes of government work.
And as a self-proclaimed nerd who loves budgets, excel spreadsheets, calculators, and the Dave Ramsey-method of managing money (and is married to someone exactly the same way), I’ve kept my overhead very low so I can make sure you, the community, can benefit from the cost-savings and receive affordable legal services.
I’m starting right here in beautiful Polk County, Florida – a place that’s been my home for three years now which I’ve definitely grown to love and enjoy. I do house visits, phone conferences, coffee shop meetings, and even library get-togethers. Feel free to contact me and get an estimate for your case!