When you think of a law firm, the picture that usually comes to mind is of a stuffy, corporate atmosphere, but that is definitely not the case at Lawyers & Lattes legal café, which recently opened at 511 Eglinton Ave. W.
Partner Tara Steinberg calls it the “first legal café in Canada.”
Tax lawyer Dale Barrett opened the unusual legal clinic because he realized that as far as the big corporate law firms go, some “clients don’t like them.” They may display big art pieces and grand reception areas, but at the end of the day it’s still a law firm, he says.
“Going to a law office is like visiting an oncologist.” It is always stressful, no matter what the outcome.
Part of the idea behind Lawyers & Lattes is to alleviate that stress and a “café is the kind of environment where people are most comfortable,” Barrett says.
Barrett said that Lawyers & Lattes is “not your Bay Street lawyers” and they are not seeking big corporate clients.
“We want to be the people’s lawyer … a resource for the community.”
You won’t see suits and ties at Lawyers & Lattes. Steinberg, Barrett and the rest of the network of lawyers at the legal café intentionally dress casually, as they aim to be more relatable to their clientele.
Another attraction for clients is that they generally pay less here for comparable service, everything that is done on the spot being at a fixed rate, including uncontested divorces, contracts and most agreements. “We’re not going to nickel and dime people,” Barrett says.
Pro bono days will be offered once a month and regular, free seminars will be offered on topics such as wills and tax law matters. Free LSAT tutoring for students trying to get into law school is also on offer.
There is no need to schedule an appointment, and walk-ins are encouraged.
The café is open every day during the week from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Besides café style seating and a fireplace, the space includes a boardroom and a tax law library. Customers can use the space with the purchase of a hot or cold beverage, salad, sandwich or vegan treat beverage or pastry, even if they don’t need legal advice.
So far, feedback has been extremely positive, especially from women and millennials, who have told Steinberg, “This place is really of the times.”