Michael Yakima

About Michael

Michael’s Essay

My goal is to use my abilities to lead and serve others in need, especially those seeking to
advance themselves and their surroundings, in order to permit them to seek higher aims than
mere survival. As a development specialist, licensed engineer, intelligence analyst, and U.S. Air
Force officer, I am uniquely positioned to contribute a variety of tools towards the well-being of
others needing help. I hope to learn to harness these tools through my legal education so I can
provide low-income persons with a viable means of lifting themselves out of hardship.
Through my education, travel, and public sector career, I developed empathy with those
residing in less affluent settings. This sparked my enthusiasm, as I shed my ignorance regarding
how different things could be outside of my relatively comfortable way of life. I realized that
people’s lives all over the world were shaped and limited by their context, and I wanted to help
provide others opportunities I had taken for granted. I understood the potential impact of using
my abilities and resources to improve quality of life.

I grew to comprehend that socio-economic development is best promoted by supporting
communities in their self-identified solutions rather than through “top-down” development.
Even as solutions are recognized, however, I observed that their efficacy can be hindered by
minimal access to resources, flawed approaches, lack of advocacy, and an overall convoluted
system; well-intentioned entrepreneurs with technically correct approaches may struggle in vain
to lift their families or neighborhoods out of hardship.

I hope to make my mark on the legal profession by guiding resource-deprived
entrepreneurs through a complex system and by supporting development initiatives in low-
opportunity communities. By offering policy, organizational, and legal guidance and
representation as a patent attorney, I will spur innovation in both the local and transnational
realms and strengthen civil society’s capacity to support vulnerable segments of the populace.
One way I plan to accomplish this objective is through legal consultation to resource-
deprived entrepreneurs and to fledgling social ventures. Specifically, I hope to serve recently-
incarcerated individuals. Such people are unlikely to have substantial employment opportunities
otherwise, and they are at risk for recidivism—society views them with skepticism, and the label
of “ex-convict” follows them the rest of their lives. By fueling their entrepreneurial skillset and
giving them a framework to create their own sustainable enterprise, these persons have an
opportunity to re-brand themselves as productive members of their community.
Beyond transforming individuals, this approach would use entrepreneurship as a tool for
social change to drive broader socio-economic development. It would simultaneously create
jobs, prevent unnecessary crime, and reduce prison-funding requirements due to fewer
imprisoned persons. Such entrepreneurs are also more prone to hire other recently-incarcerated
persons, thus producing a snowball effect that has the capability to transform an entire
community.

Prisons offer an ideal opportunity in which to promote legal services to these individuals
and to educate my target market. Outside of confinement, however, potential entrepreneurs may
not have any idea where to begin and thus may never follow through with a possibly profitable
opportunity for themselves and society. To counter this, I plan to use design principles in
maximizing the use of technology in marketing. Particularly, I will coordinate with popular local
businesses and malls in offering “legal kiosks” that use illustrations, diagrams, checklists, and
series of questions that assist individuals in deciding whether to move forward with a business
idea. Such kiosks will reach a large portion of the populace and connect potential clients to
lawyers and other business professionals who choose to partner with me. Further, these kiosks
can be expanded beyond an entrepreneurship focus to other legal issues, where those without a
valid legal issue can quickly be filtered out through simple questionnaires. Thus, a consortium
of different types of legal services providers has an opportunity to pay to contribute to the
kiosk’s software and be listed as a contact for viable clients needing assistance within the
provider’s specialty.

By partnering with local lawyers and businesses through legal kiosks and by promoting
my services directly to potential clients while still in prison, I hope to simultaneously create
clients who otherwise would not have considered entrepreneurship while preventing wasted time
on individuals unlikely to pursue my services. Such an approach can transform the legal
profession for entrepreneurship law while advancing the local economy’s development. Beyond
business law, legal kiosks offer an opportunity for legal services providers to better focus on
clients likely to have valid legal issues while permitting technology to quickly filter out others.
This approach helps me to achieve my goal of maximizing my time and resources to assist those
attempting to lift themselves out of hardship. Ideally, this program will serve as a replicable
national model to reach an optimal amount of all potential clients.