Most lawyers get hefty hourly fees for their services. Not so many would accept payment in the form of a basket of root vegetables and a side of beef. But Kenneth Miller, Esq., and his business partner Adam Prizio, Esq., say they’d consider it.
“That was a discussion we had,” says Miller. “Bartering is going to be offered … It comes with the territory.” Miller and Prizio call their firm Law for Food. The recent Vermont Law School graduates have dedicated their practice — which serves all of New England but focuses on Vermont — to helping farmers who otherwise might not be able to afford legal representation. Their work includes aiding growers with estate planning, farm transfers and lease agreements.
Miller says he was thrilled when one of their clients offered part of a pig as payment. “I brought home the bacon,” he says jubilantly. For clients who don’t have nosh to offer but can’t afford regular fees, there’s a sliding scale.
Miller, who interned at the nonprofit Rural Vermont while he was at school, says they’ll also lobby to change regulations that make small-scale farming a burden, and plan to draft easy-to-understand legal guides on various earthy topics. “We’re looking at a lot of food-safety issues around processing food and selling it directly to the consumer,” he explains.
How does the pair manage to charge less than their classmates? “We keep our cost of living low,” Miller says. “We work out of our homes [his in South Royalton, Prizio’s in New Hampshire] and do all of our research ourselves. We basically don’t want to be normal lawyers.”
Sounds like they’ve succeeded.