Incubating Community Law Practices: Post-Graduate Models for Lawyer Training & Access to Law
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While the greatest number of lawyers practice in solo and small firms, law schools do not devote sufficient resources to preparing law students for the opportunities and challenges that these types of law firms present. The recent economic recession has highlighted the need to better train lawyers to launch law practices right out of law school. However, experienced lawyers, law professors and state bar policy makers worry that individuals who start their own practices are not sufficiently trained to practice and could irreparably harm a client. Many new lawyers share that concern but also worry about the financial instability that comes with starting a business. A handful of U.S. law schools and bar associations are addressing the need for new lawyer training as an opportunity to also build legal service delivery models that address the needs of low and modest income individuals who need lawyers. Law schools have launched post-graduate programs that ask lawyer participants to provide free and reduced rate legal services to underserved populations in exchange for subject matter training and support for their law businesses during their start-up phase. This article describes post-graduate incubator programs, specifically lawyer incubators, that promote access to justice and offers recommendations for best practices in designing such programs.
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