New project will hire and train lawyers to serve moderate-means New Yorkers

A start-up designed to train lawyers to provide needed legal services to people of modest means is taking applications from recent law grads who are licensed in New York.

The new venture, called the Court Square Law Project, is the result of a partnership between 19 BigLaw firms, the CUNY School of Law, and the New York City Bar Association, according to a press release and the Am Law Daily (sub. req.). The law firms are each donating $100,000 in funding.

The project aims to provide legal services in areas of chronic under-representation to those who make too much money to qualify for legal aid.

The project will select up to 10 lawyers for the pilot program in each of the next four years. The lawyers will be hired for a two-year fellowship residency and will receive an annual stipend of $44,000, according to the project website.

The Court Square Law Project will charge modest rates to clients, according to Davis Polk & Wardwell partner Carey Dunne, who sits on the project’s executive committee. He told the Am Law Daily that the project is expected to be self-supporting, and the law firm donations should not be needed after the first year.

New York City Bar Association president Debra Raskin said in the press release that tens of millions of Americans have important unmet legal needs at the same time of “widespread handwringing” in the legal profession about the supposed oversupply of lawyers. “Our groundbreaking Court Square Law Project will address both a crisis in the legal profession and the persistent access to justice gap in our society,” she said.

The sponsor law firms are: Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Debevoise & Plimpton; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Kirkland & Ellis; Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel; Latham & Watkins; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; O’Melveny & Myers; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Proskauer Rose; Schulte Roth & Zabel; Shearman & Sterling; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom ;Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; and Winston & Strawn.

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