College of Law Alumni Argyle and Spencer Featured in the Atlantic

Shantelle Argyle and Daniel Spencer, ’13, are featured in an Atlantic article, “The Utah Lawyers Who Are Making Legal Services Affordable.”

Spencer explains that, “We were inspired to pursue this type of model based on a conversation I had with my co-director Shantelle Argyle about wanting to carve out a niche in the nonexistent legal market for middle class Utahns. I had interned for Legal Aid Society doing protective orders, and the Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic. We originally were talking about doing a regular small-firm model, and charging some kind of discounted fee. The sliding scale model just seemed to make sense, as we had both heard of other professional services that use that type of system. At some point after taking the bar, but before being sworn in, we had the idea of setting up as a nonprofit. We subsequently discovered that both the Utah State Bar Modest Means Program and another firm called Access Justice out of Minneapolis – St. Paul were using a type of sliding scale based on income. It just seemed like the most equitable way to provide services without having to arbitrarily discount fees on a case-by-case basis like traditional firms have to do.”
David McNeill, a recent University of Utah MBA graduate and the firm’s volunteer Business Strategy Analyst, was the catalyst for the Atlantic article. He recounts, “I have been working with Open Legal Services since January 2014. On May 30, a friend of mine emailed me an article from The Atlantic, [about the need for affordable lawyers]. It is a very thorough discussion of the problem of affordable access to justice. I reached out to the author via email and Twitter and told him about Open Legal Services. Intrigued, he called us and interviewed Daniel, Shantelle, and myself for over an hour.”

As a result of the article, Spencer says, “We have seen a surge in web traffic from across the country, and we have had several attorneys contact us asking if we are hiring. Frankly, we are just happy that people across the country are excited about our little experiment.”