Mindy Yocum is taking her brand of lawyering to the streets – literally.
Yocum will extend the reach of her Yocum Law practice with the JusticeMobile, a traveling office that will make its way across the state providing legal clinics for employers, agencies, non-profits and schools.
In 2016, Yocum launched her socially-conscious law firm offering flat and sliding scale fees based on income.
“I try to work with people to make sure that everyone can afford access to an attorney,” Yocum says.
It has kept her busy, providing legal resources to over 1,000 individuals in 2018 through her reduced-fee services and the legal clinics and educational workshops that are another part of her operation.
From the beginning, Yocum has worked with businesses like Hot Chicken Takeover to provide legal clinics where employees can ask questions and Yocum can help to quickly triage and address issues.
She’s expanded the clinics over time, making a weekly visit to the Main Branch of the Columbus Library Downtown, visiting Action for Children on a quarterly basis, and working with Holy Families alongside Mount Carmel’s outreach team and mobile health clinic.
It was the mobile health clinic that got the wheels turning for the JusticeMobile. She saw the health services Mount Carmel was able to offer and how developing relationships with community members kept them coming back to get the care they need. She has also seen the impacts that going to the people can have when it comes to legal needs.
“I’ve found that being on site is better,” Yocum says. “Going to where people are is better and being able to provide as many resources as possible is the ultimate goal.”
By bringing legal resources to where people already are, Yocum is also helping to remove the barrier of accessibility.
The JusticeMobile will operate as a non-profit, approval pending, in partnership with Yocum Law. Part of the earnings from the practice will help cover costs, as well as fees from the agencies and non-profits that can afford to pay for services. Those paying customers will also help to support those that can’t pay.
For businesses, “An employer essentially would bring the JusticeMobile onsite to offer a benefit to their employees,” Yocum says.
Employees will attend open houses or general legal advice clinics where Yocum will see what common questions are being asked and develop educational workshops around those issues.
Yocum says she sees many employees that miss work or have problems that prevent them from being effective at work that could be handled with just a few quick questions to an attorney. Bring in the Justice Mobile and for a minimal price an employer can offer a mutually beneficial service.
Work with non-profits will look similar to the legal advice clinics Yocum holds now. The clinics will be tailored to meet the needs of the population the organization is working with.
Yocum’s brand of law is hands-on. She seeks to help clients through as many of the steps of the process as she can right then and there.
“I have learned that it is very important to assist an individual as much as possible, while they are in front of you,” she says. “It is very difficult for some people to follow through, especially with filling out forms or carrying out legal procedures.”
Over the years, Yocum has assisted clients with a broad range of legal issues, from getting records sealed to child custody cases and landlord/tenant issues.
Yocum helped a young father see his daughter for the first time in two years by setting up an income-based payment plan when he had previously foregone legal representation because he couldn’t afford it. In another instance, she helped an individual with a felony conviction from 20 years ago get their records sealed to pursue a promotion at work, and another recover thousands of dollars in lost income after leaving a job.
Whether it’s something as minor as helping fight a traffic ticket, or as life-changing as a custody case, Yocum wants people to understand their rights.
Yocum is hoping other attorneys across the state will join her in the fight.
“The other goal is to develop a network of attorneys around the state that are willing to offer fees like myself,” she says. “The hope is that attorneys around the state will also see an increase in business and understand the business model of offering sliding scale fees so that they know that it is possible to provide services and feed your family.”
As summer gets going, Yocum will be taking the JusticeMobile on a world (Ohio) tour. She’ll participate in the Doo Dah Parade and other festivals and events. She encourages people to come check out the JusticeMobile. The legal world can be intimidating, but Yocum wants to make legal assistance available to all. Worst case scenario, there will be snacks and a potential resource for people down the road, best case Yocum can help visitors find a solution to a legal issue they might not have even known they needed help with.