Michael Manely said they've started recruiting lawyers and have developed a training program for new lawyers, so they are prepared to advise clients.
To be eligible, prospective hires must first acquire at least 18 hours of hands-on client and courtroom experience from a law school clinic, an externship or by volunteering with pro bono groups, such as Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation's Safe Families program at Fulton Superior Court.
Michael Manely and his firm's other four lawyers will serve as backup advisers. He said they'll bill their consultation time to the Justice Café, and payment will come from its half of the $75 per hour paid by its clients.
To develop clients, the Manelys are sending mailers to people filing family law cases pro se in Fulton Superior Court. "We've done the math. If we can get the volume we need, it can work," said Shelia Manely.
The Manelys want the Justice Café to be a gathering spot for the legal community as well as a walk-in law firm. The back half of the space will have soundproof cubicles where lawyers can see clients, and they plan to furnish the front half of the shop like a coffeehouse, with free coffee and Wi-Fi for lawyers and law students. There will be sandwiches for sale from Ida's Restaurant next door.
Shelia Manely gestured toward a small stage at the side of the room and said it could be a performance space for lawyers who play music with a tip jar for contributions to pro bono groups. She envisions lawyer-artists hanging their art for display from the walls.
"There is a place in the cafe for all of them," she said.