'Teaching hospital for law school graduates' is launching at Arizona State

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A tour of the Mayo Clinic a few years ago gave the dean of Arizona State University’s law school an idea that is about to come to fruition.

What Dean Douglas J. Sylvester calls “a teaching hospital for law school graduates” will begin operating this summer. While other law schools also are trying out the fledgling idea for helping alumni get launched into legal careers in the midst of a difficult economic situation, ASU’s appears to be one of the most ambitious, and largest, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).

Known as the Alumni Law Group, the nonprofit firm will include 30 grads in the next few years. Groups of five will work under the supervision of a seasoned, salaried attorney. Some work is expected to come from the university, and ASU hopes to attract other clients by charging $125 an hour for work that would ordinarily cost $250, the newspaper explains. It also is interested in serving the needs of military veterans, Latinos and Native Americans.

More than a dozen other law schools have established, or are working to establish, similar incubators for recent law grads. And incoming ABA President James R. Silkenat has called for the creation of a “legal job corps” to help put attorneys looking for work in touch with clients who need work done, the Times reports.

But, while there are potential clients who need representation and new law graduates eager to serve them, someone has to pay the bills. Even at $125 an hour, for example, some question whether the services of ASU’s Alumni Law Group will be in demand. Nonetheless, there is a sense that the incubator concept, even if it may need some tweaking, has merit.

“I would love to blink and wake up in 10 years and see where all this ends,” said Jennifer C. Friedman. She is executive director of the Pace Community Law Practice, at Pace University School of Law.

“We know about 10 to 15 programs opening in the coming years,” Friedman told the newspaper. “That means there are 30 more behind them. Every faculty is talking about this.”

Additional and related coverage: “Law Dean at Arizona State Unveils Plan to Create Law Grad ‘Residency’ Program at Nonprofit Law Firm”

Slate: “ASU Launching a Law Firm To Employ Unemployable Law School Graduates”

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