Tuesday, November 9, 2010

UMKC starts "Solo and Small Firm Incubator" project to help new grads find work

U. of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law recently announced that it has launched a "Solo and Small Law Firm Incubator" project in partnership with the Missouri Bar Association for the purpose of assisting new grads with their careers.  According to the press release:

Developed with assistance from The Missouri Bar Association and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association's Solo Practitioner/Small Firms committee, the Incubator will assist recent graduates entering solo and small firm practices. It will provide affordable office space for about nine tenants, as well as practice management assistance and mentoring so that graduates can gain support in launching their own practices, while also providing pro bono or affordable legal services to the underserved Troost area corridor.

Apparently this is an off-shoot of UMKC's "Solo and Small Firm Institute" which began in 2004. 

Above the Law provides these additional details and commentary:

UMKC [has] . . . had an Entrepreneurial Legal Services Clinic since 2002 and offer more than a couple of courses in entrepreneurship and the business of running a practice. As Carolyn Elefant points out, the law school incubator concept isn’t entirely new, but UMKC takes matters a step further than other programs.

Many states have implemented some kind of “bridge the gap” program in an effort to connect new graduates with experienced lawyers, but I wonder how much oversight actually takes place. Consider the following: law students graduate into the awkward position of thinking they’re supposed to know the answers to legal questions that arise in practice, when in fact they do not. Thus, it’s likely that these new attorneys are not asking enough questions of their mentors.

On the other side, the mentor has his own clients and daily issues that will necessarily come between him and his altruistic efforts. Add to these problems the reality that these new solos and their respective mentors are in different offices (i.e., not down just down the hall), and the overall result of the program is, much like the education it means to supplement, good in theory but weak in practice.

By contrast, the UMKC program seems to provide a closer nexus (for those of you immersed in the revelry of Civ Pro outlines) between the new practitioner and his support system. In addition to having support from the local bar, the program bears the UMKC name, which should keep its administration actively involved, and will be housed just a stone’s throw from the law school, giving it a physical proximity that I think is conceptually important for those new attorneys. (There’s something reassuring about help literally being right around the corner.)

You can read the rest of UMKC's press release here and ATL's coverage and commentary here.

Hat tip to ATL.



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