Be a launchpad for legal innovation.


Because it is a problem that four out of five people in Oregon and the U.S. go without needed legal services. If most people are unable to access the law or legal systems, why would they care if the rule of law or legal systems persist? Legal access is about helping people and protecting systems of fundamental fairness. 

  • The latest Oregon Civil Legal Needs Study (2018) reported 84% of Oregonians with a legal problem did not receive legal help of any kind, a statistically insignificant change from Oregon's last study (2000).   
  • The Legal Services Corporation found that 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low income Americans received no or inadequate legal help. 
  • The Oregon State Bar Futures Task Force put the number of un- or under-lawyered Oregonians at 1.2 million people annually.
  • The Federal Reserve reports 47% of Americans can’t come up with $400 cash to cover an emergency.
  • The access to justice gap has reached a critical level that threatens the very underpinnings of our democracy, according to 2018 ABA President Hilarie Bass.

The legal access problem needs applied innovation and you can provide it. 

LawShares is how you, your firm, or your company can serve as a launchpad for legal innovation to help close the access gap.  

LawShares are a modest monthly gifts that provide runway for new ideas. Each LawShare is $10 and helps build our capacity to develop & deliver programs that reach people. For example:

  • 10 LawShares per month is a transportation stipend for one of our unpaid law clerks
  • 25 LawShares per month is most of a family law filing fee for a low income client 
  • 50 LawShares per month covers office supplies and essential software subscriptions
  • 100 LawShares per month hires a part-time law clerk during the school year
  • 250 LawShares per month hires a full-time law clerk in the summer
  • 500 LawShares per month endows a New Lawyer Fellow

When you give to The Commons Law Center, your gift is leveraged by our earned revenue, making each dollar go further. Charitable support makes up less than 25% of our annual budget.

LawShares and one-time donations are leveraged by our earned revenue streams, making each dollar go further.  

The Commons Law Center is taking a new approach to serving modest means Oregonians—our neighbors living on less than 400% of the federal poverty level. Programs are designed to be financially self-sufficient. LawShares and one-time donations support the agile program design phase, where we develop, build partnerships, test, and iterate. 

We are building the capability to deliver high-quality, low-cost legal services at scale by combining:

  • new lawyer fellows and law student clerks in need of practical training, 
  • pro bono partners, who lend their experience to mentor fellows and clerks, 
  • sliding-scale and increasingly unbundled (piecemeal or a la carte) legal services,
  • community education, partnership development, and outreach,
  • technologically driven systems and processes, and
  • the concept of kaizen, or continuous improvement, to which we apply Lean, Agile, and Design Thinking to adapt our programs and approaches as we learn more about the people we serve and their needs.

In the process, we are training tomorrow’s lawyers to build innovative, profitable, and community-oriented practices of their own. We place tremendous value on the charitable investment you make in our programs, and we’re constantly working to stretch and scale our donations to maximize their impact.

Will you join us?