A recent article from IICLE ( Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education ) by Janet Rubel an Attorney from Northbrook, recognizes the difficult employment situation for many recent law graduates. Her article provides pragmatic guidance and advice for these new lawyers who have passed the bar, on setting up their own practices. She also mentions an innovative program which starts on November 5 at Illinois Institute of Technology/Chicago-Kent School of Law , called the "Solo & Small Practice Incubator". This program could be a model for other law schools.
"The poor prospects for traditional routes to employment have caused some law schools to offer their graduates help in starting their own practices. I am speaking at one such event at the Illinois Institute of Technology/Chicago-Kent School of Law this month. This is aimed at alumni who have passed the Bar but cannot find jobs."
The year-long program is for a number of Chicago-Kent graduates who will be selected based on a detailed application. The incubator will provide actual practice experience under the guidance of clinical faculty in the school's own working for-fee law firm, "The Law Offices of Chicago-Kent" which delivers legal services to the community.
The incubator provides the grads with legal practice experience which includes the business side of running a legal practice. As an incubator the participants get access to several resources to further their training to allow them to eventually create their own practice. These resources include :
• an office facility, which includes basic office fixtures such as a desk, chair, phone, and internet access, located at Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60661;
• experiential training on law firm management, including topics such as client intake, billing practices, marketing, case management, discovery, and other practice-related topics;
• alumni-mentors who commit to a certain amount of time per week to advise participants in a variety of practice areas;
• a network of clinical faculty-mentors/supervisors to help participants navigate different selected practice areas;
• educational resources and networking opportunities to enhance participants’ professional careers;
• access to Chicago-Kent’s state of the art library facilities;
• access to Lexis and Westlaw.
Although there is no fee to participate in the incubator, participants are required to provide 10 or more hours of billable time per week and to have appropriate professional malpractice insurance.
The application for the program requires current resume; a business plan identifying Choice of Entity and Area(s) of Practice ; a Marketing Plan; a Budget for your first year of operation and year thereafter.
The Chicago-Kent incubator program concretely addresses the Carnegie Report's recommendations that law school education needs to "... complement the focus on skill in legal analyses with effective support for developing ethical and practice skills." And that the "...emphasis on well-honed skills of legal analysis should be matched by similar skill in serving clients and a solid ethical grounding,"