University of Baltimore School of Law, housed in the John and Frances Angelos Law Center. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ)
The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and the University of Baltimore School of Law are launching an incubator to help recent graduates launch solo practices while serving low-income clients.
The schools developed the project with the help of the Maryland State Bar Association, which is providing $50,000. Administrators hope to have the incubator running by November.
“The incubator offers a great opportunity for recent graduates to gain experience while providing affordable legal services to people in the state,” said Maryland Law dean Donald Tobin. The bar’s Special Committee on Law School Graduates spent two years planning the program, he said.
Earlier this month, Boston College Law School, Boston University School of Law and Northeastern University School of Law announced plans for a joint incubator in early 2016, partially funded by an American Bar Association grant. More than 30 law schools host incubators or similar legal residency programs, according to the ABA.
In Baltimore, each school will contribute three graduates who have passed the Maryland bar exam for the inaugural cohort. The participants will spend 12 to 18 months getting their practices off the ground. Tobin said the schools would look for graduates who aspire to solo or small-firm practices and have an entrepreneurial bent.
The law schools will provide office space, telephones and equipment, as well as malpractice insurance and bar dues. The graduates will get access to Westlaw, which provides free services to legal incubators.
An attorney from Civil Justice Inc.—a Maryland nonprofit—will oversee participants through weekly case reviews. Practicing attorneys will also mentor the recent graduates in areas including law practice management and business development. Civil Justice will connect the new attorneys with low-income clients, Tobin said.
Participants must donate at least 10 percent of their billable hours to low-income clients and take a least one pro bono case.
“In this new program, recent law graduates will refine their skills and build their practices under the guidance of experienced lawyers,” Baltimore Law dean Ronald Weich said. “This partnership will be a big advantage for new U.B. and U.M. graduates and a big win for the legal community.”
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