Longtime Shearman & Sterling international arbitration attorney Jonathan Greenblatt and veteran technology and services CEO Bryan Parker had no idea they would be launching a startup that aimed to upend the traditional law firm hiring model just months before the COVID-19 pandemic destabilized virtually everything about how firms operate.

But two years after welcoming the first class of law clerks, Legal Innovators finds its early-career attorneys in demand at firms like Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Latham & Watkins, as well as in-house departments including construction giant Bechtel. For firms, it’s not just the pinched talent market that’s pushing them to experiment with new approaches to talent acquisition, but also the company’s strategy for delivering diverse talent, particularly in the wake of the nationwide reckoning on racial inequality that exploded in the summer of 2020.