Incubator Program

The Incubator Program offers unique opportunities designed to accelerate the successful development of lawyers committed to establishing their own firm practice and provides a supportive environment for select new law graduates who are committed to beginning a solo or small firm practice serving low- and moderate-income clients.

When the program was created in 2014, with help from the ABA and the Legal Access Job Corps Task Force, Detroit Mercy Law was one of only two law schools in the country to receive the ABA Catalyst Grant. Receiving the grant helped to form the Solo and Small Firm Incubator Program. The funds were used for the initial setup for support in its first year.

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    Eligibility & Requirements

    The program is limited to two recent Detroit Mercy Law graduates who have been admitted to practice in the State of Michigan and who have proof of malpractice insurance. Participants enter the Program with a commitment to building a practice representing clients on a low-bono or sliding fee scale. Participants also agree to provide at least 100 hours of pro bono legal services. In exchange for this commitment, participants receive work space, a computer with internet access, access to printing, on-going training and mentoring, networking opportunities, and a variety of other resources necessary to build their own independent and sustainable law practice.

    There are different criteria for remote work, please contact Rebecca Nowak for more information.

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    Contact

    Rebecca Simkins Nowak

    Rebecca Simkins Nowak, Esq.
    Director, Clinical Operations and Outreach
    (313) 596-9409
    simkinrg@udmercy.edu

Successful Incubator Participants

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    Migladys Bermudez: '14 Participant

    Migladys BermudezMigladys Bermudez, Esq. '14 is the founding member of the Law Office of Migladys Bermudez, PLLC, a Detroit-based boutique immigration law firm. Focusing her practice on family immigration law, she has extensive experience with immigration detention matters involving Cancellation of Removal and Defensive Asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Family Petitions (I-130, I-485), and various visas. She frequently provides “Know Your Rights” presentations for the Detroit-area community and regularly volunteers with Justice for Our Neighbors. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of Michigan, and the Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of Michigan. She earned a Juris Doctor with a concentration in Immigration Law.

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    Ponce Clay: '20-21 Participant

    Ponce ClayPonce Clay '15, '18 earned a Juris Doctor and MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy. He was named an Outstanding Young Lawyer and received the 2020 Community Impact Award from the Detroit Bar Association. The Community Impact Award goes to a young attorney whose integrity, competence and accomplishments have significantly impacted the local community, or have had a demonstrable impact on the broader state or national landscape. As a Retired Naval Officer, he founded, The Clay Group LLC, a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business. His most recent civilian public service was as the former Chairman, Detroit Board of Ethics and the recent former Division Director, Wayne County Veteran Services.

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    Jonathan Contreras: '18 Participant

    Jonathan ContrerasJonathan Contreras '16 is the owner of Merced Law PLLC in Southwest Detroit. Merced Law PLLC offers bilingual legal services with a holistic approach. He also works for Southwest Detroit Immigrant & Refugee Center as the Legal Director. While at Detroit Mercy Law, he held the positions of President and Treasurer for the Hispanic Law Students Association. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Michigan with a BS in Psychology.

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    Krenissa D. Hicks: '21 Participant

    Krenissa HicksKrenissa D. Hicks '16 is a Managing Attorney at Metropolitan Law Offices, PLC. She practices in the areas of family law, civil litigation, probate administration, estate planning and criminal defense. She is affiliated with several professional associations including the Black Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, the Detroit Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association and the Oakland County Bar Association. She additionally was appointed to serve on the State Bar of Michigan Affordable Legal Services committee and is a board member of the Detroit Mercy Law - Association of Black Law Alumni.

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    Sydney Booth Rushing: '14 Participant

    Sydney Booth RushingSydney Booth Rushing, Esq. '14 started Rushing Law. Rushing Law, PLC is a boutique law firm based in Detroit, Michigan. Rushing Law specializes in Criminal law, as well as Family and Civil law, but is capable of handling any type of situation. They believe everyone deserves the best defense possible and are fully prepared to fight aggressively on your behalf. The highest priority is their client’s best interest. They will work diligently and effectively to help the client achieve the best possible outcome. They will boldly fight on the client’s behalf to have charges reduced or dismissed, or be prepared to win the case in trial if need be.

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    Roeiah Epps-Ward: '21 Participant

    Roeish Epps WardRoeish Epps-Ward '19 earned her Juris Doctor from Detroit Mercy Law and Master of Social Work 05’ from Wayne State University. Equipped with more than 20 years of experience in government regulation including child welfare, Roeiah specializes in State of Michigan related proceedings. Due to her numerous years of providing crisis centered services, Roeiah has developed an unflappable spirit which aids clients amid their crises. Roeiah offers legal and consulting services in her general solo practice as well as representation for licensed attorneys in grievance related matters and will center her practice in criminal law; actual innocence claims for the wrongly convicted; and domestic related matters.

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    Samia Abbas Yager: '18 Participant

    Samia Abbas Yager Samia Abbas Yager '15 graduated Magna Cum Laude from Detroit Mercy Law. After working as an immigration attorney at a large law firm, in 2017, Samia opened her own solo firm as an immigration attorney, Signature Legal Services, PLC. Samia represents families and corporations with their immigration needs.

Solo and Small Firm Program

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    About

    The Detroit Mercy Law School experience forms a natural connection for entrepreneurial-minded graduates interested in developing their own law practice serving low to moderate-income individuals.

    The Center for Solo & Small Firm Practice provides business and legal practice management workshops to support Detroit Mercy Law alumni in becoming successful solo or small firm practitioners. Each workshop provides valuable legal and small business tools to help alumni establish their own independent and sustainable practice. Workshops are free to Detroit Mercy Law students and alumni and focus on the key building blocks of successful solo or small firm practice. Workshops are led by a professional with subject matter expertise. In exchange for the free workshops, you are encouraged to provide pro bono legal services to a local legal aid organization of your choice.

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    Past Workshop Topics

    Workshops have been hosted on such topics as:

    BUSINESS BASICS TO START YOUR OWN FIRM
    Presenter by: David Malick, CPA, Owner CFO Nation, John Reed, Rain BMD, Tanisha M. Davis ’09,  
    Ponce Clay ’15, '18 

    ADVICE FOR NEW LAWYERS FROM THE BENCH TO THE BAR
    Presenter by: Solo & Small Firm Institute
    Panelists were:
    Judge Victoria Roberts, United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan
    Judge Denise Langford Morris '82 , Oakland County Circuit Court
    Judge Terrance Keith '84, Wayne County Probate Court
    Eugene Driker, Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker, PLLC
    Barb Patek, Patek Law and Director of Detroit Mercy Law’s Federal Pro Se Clinic

    SO YOU WANT TO BE A SOLO PRACTITIONER?
    Presented by: John J. Conway, PC & Tanisha M. Davis, PLLC 

    BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING BASICS
    Presented by: John F. Reed, Esq.

    TECHNOLOGY & THE SOLO OR SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONER
    Presented by: Jared Chimovitz, Chimovitz Computer Genius

    CASE AND CLIENT SELECTION AND OTHER VALUABLE LESSONS
    Presented by: Michael Pitt, Managing Partner, Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers, P.C.

    BILLING & TRUST ACCOUNTING: GETTING IT RIGHT MALPRACTICE INSURANCE 101
    Presented by: Danon Goodrum-Garland, State Bar of Michigan Director of Professional Standards & JoAnn Hathaway, State Bar of Michigan Practice Management Advisor

    MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION
    Presented by: Alan Gershel, Grievance Administrator, MI Attorney Grievance Commission & Rhonda Pozehl, Senior Associate Counsel, MI Attorney Grievance Commission

    MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION
    Presented by: Michael Morgan, Adjunct Professor, Detroit Mercy Law

    DRIVER'S LICENSE RESTORATION & FELONY EXPUNGEMENT
    Presented by: Charlotte Steffen, Adjunct Professor, Detroit Mercy Law