The rapid growth of legal incubator and residency programs over the past two years is proof that good ideas spread fast. Law schools, legal aid programs, and bar associations play an increasing role in the development of post-graduate training and support programs for attorneys to help them meet the huge unmet demand for affordable legal services.
This February, California Western hosts an international conference, “Enhancing Social Justice through the Development of Incubator and Residency Programs,” addressing the opportunities and challenges faced by organizations who wish to design and implement them.
Registration is now open for the two-day conference scheduled for February 27-28, 2015 at the California Western campus in downtown San Diego. The event is co-sponsored by Touro Law Center, UMKC School of Law, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and the State Bar of California Access to Justice Commission.
California Western opened the first such incubator on the West Coast in 2012. Since then, the Access to Law Initiative (ALI) has grown to more than twice its original size and has become a national model. The program includes lawyers who practice in a wide range of areas of law to better meet the needs of clients with legal issues.
Inherent in these programs is a focus on training lawyers who can help to resolve the unmet legal needs of individuals and entities from moderate to low-income communities while they build economically sustainable practices that will continue to serve those client needs. ALI attorneys agree to donate 100 hours of pro bono and public service as part of their 18-month commitment.
These incubator and residency programs are expanding rapidly and reflect the fact that increasingly the people who choose to attend law school do so because they are committed to expanding access to affordable legal services for the mainstream groups that have not been adequately served, and because they recognize that solo and small firm practice has long been the most popular career path for lawyers.
The conference will describe and advance the phenomenal growth of post graduate law programs and the new wave of affordable legal services for groups without access to legal resources. In addition to the basics of creating and implementing incubator programs it will address the impact on law school curricular reform; collaboration between bench, bar, and academics; technology and delivery of legal services; evolution of lawyering role models; and access to justice.
The cost of the conference is $225 per registrant, which will cover breakfasts, lunches, and dinner. Online registration can be found at www.cwsl.edu/incubator.