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Business of Law

Legal incubator helps lawyers launch firms serving clients of modest means

Posted Nov 15, 2013 4:40 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Although there's an oversupply of lawyers, there's also an undersupply of representation for those who need their services but can't afford to pay hefty fees.

The Chicago Bar Foundation is trying to address that imbalance, and help recent graduates get jobs, through a privately supported legal incubator. Its Justice Entrepreneurs Project gives Illinois attorneys office space at 208 S. Jefferson Street, for which they will pay minimal rent after six months. Meanwhile, law schools pay them stipends of $1,000 a month to do pro bono work as they develop their own practices. The idea is that the lawyers will eventually be able to earn a living by helping paying clients of modest means who don't qualify for legal aid, Crain's Chicago Business reports.

Among the participants is Nora Endzel, a 30-year-old law graduate of DePaul University. After clerking in the Cook County Circuit Court domestic relations division, she got an offer from a law firm where she was working part-time but turned it down because she saw the Chicago Bar Foundation program as an opportunity to set herself up in her own family-law practice.

"I knew I wanted to start my own firm," she tells Crain's.

A Chicago Bar Foundation web page provides additional information about the program.

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