Help for those in need? Try ‘Esquires on Tires’

Elon Law students pitched the idea of a mobile law clinic that could assist residents of underserved communities as part of a contest held this fall to support the Innovation Lab at Legal Aid of North Carolina.

It was a question posed by the Innovation Lab at Legal Aid of North Carolina: “How might we empower North Carolinians to better understand their legal issues and identify potential solutions for themselves?”

For Elon Law students who took part this fall in the 2023 Legal Design Derby, while there were many possible answers, the one they chose to present relied on four tires. It also had a catchy name – Esquires on Tires.

Jordon Inzerillo L’24, Kirsten Tildon L’24, Stephanie Auth L’24, and Chuom Prak L’24 participated in the annual competition co-hosted by Duke Center on Law & Tech and North Carolina Central University Technology Law and Policy Center.

Sponsored again by Lawyers Mutual Consulting + Services, students from three North Carolina law schools gathered on October 27 in Durham where a panel of judges awarded prizes, and select teams would be eligible for financial support, mentoring, or resources to further develop concepts.

“Jordon came up with the pun,” Prak said. “‘Esquires on Tires’ envisioned a mobile clinic, a mobile bus if you will, for Legal Aid of NC to go directly to folks in rural and urban North Carolina. It would be headed by at least one lawyer but mostly run and staffed as a rapid response unit for areas with the direst needs.”

Their presentation considered local support infrastructure, liaison, and partnership building; educational programs for partner organizations; and social media ambassadors to raise awareness of the resource.

Photo of Elon Law's student team speaking with Samantha Pittman of Legal Aid of North Carolina's Innovation Lab
Samantha Pittman of Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Innovation Lab speaks with Elon Law’s student team during the 2023 Legal Design Derby. (Photo courtesy of Duke University / Colin Huth of Huth Photo)

“Our idea included marketing and advertising for ‘Esquires on Tires,’” Prak said. “Ambassadors would amplify the message of Legal Aid via social media campaigns that targeted primarily lawyers with videos on common problems facing Legal Aid clients such as domestic abuse, restraining orders, and housing issues.”

It was the second year that Prak and Tildon entered the competition at the encouragement of Associate Professor John Flynn, director of Elon Law’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic.

The top prize for the 2023 contest was awarded to a team comprised of students from NC Central and Duke Law.

And while the Elon Law teammates didn’t take home the gold, to their pleasant surprise, they learned later that Legal Aid is working to establish a mobile clinic. Students have already discussed the possibility of helping with community outreach and are working with a faculty member to explore the possibility of an independent study.

“Sure, we would have loved to win the competition,” Prak said. “Still, Steve Jobs once said that ‘ideas are worth nothing unless executed.’ We liked our idea and wanted to see it in real life, so the team reached out to Legal Aid. We were delighted to learn that they had recently bought a bus and were planning a rapid response, deployable, mobile clinic for the rural eastern counties of North Carolina.

“Naturally, we jumped on board and hope to work on the mobile legal clinic this term.”