Sometimes, when your back is against the wall is when your most profound ideas come. At some law schools, they’re pressed tightly declining applications and enrollments (and, consequently, funding from tuition dollars). And now some of those law schools are getting creative in how to combat one of the biggest issues leading to the decline—a tight job market.
The answer, for some, is to take a lesson from the entrepreneurship departments at business schools and create a law school version of an incubator. According to an Associated Press report published in The Huffington Post, about two dozen legal incubators or fellowship programs have recently popped up—mainly at lower ranked law schools.
The fellowships and incubators largely aim to give recent grads legal experience while serving populations that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford legal services. Additionally, many of the programs are designed to help participants start solo practices.
One such program is the Center for Solo Practitioners at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Lilys McCoy, who heads up the program, which started in 2012, was designed to give recent grads the space and means to set up their own businesses while inspiring them to have their practice do “modest-means work.”
Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California has a similar program that places nine recent grads in subsidized office space at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. The lawyers who use the space are expected to complete at least 300 hours of free legal work. They also receive training in marketing and finance.
Rutgers School of Law in New Jersey has a similar program in which six students receive $30,000 each to take cases ranging from domestic violence and divorce cases to landlord-tenant disputes and drug cases. The graduates remain as “students” so they can defer loans and stay on the school’s health care while gaining the practical experience.
Of course, critics of these programs say it is an attempt by the schools to improve job placement numbers, which are reported to the American Bar Association and various rankings. Regardless, it’s a good enough plan that at least one top school is joining the party. The University of California-Berkeley Boalt School of Law is starting a similar program this fall in partnership with four other Bay Area law schools.
Source: The Huffington Post
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