Law Firms

Weil takes a different tack by funding 'Zero L' public service

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Weil, Gotshal & Manges is partnering with 10 top-ranked law schools to encourage incoming students to spend a year working at public service organizations before they begin their legal education.

The law firm has been funding the work for an average of 10 “Zero Ls” a year since the program began in 2019, Reuters reports.

Those participating in the “legal innovators” program can choose to work at one of 13 nonprofits, including the Innocence Project, Human Rights Watch, the National Urban League, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the National Women’s Law Center.

Weil pays the nonprofits $50,000 for the salary of each participant, along with $40,000 to cover benefits and other expenses, the Reuters article explains. The nonprofit can keep any unspent money as a donation. Students also get a $10,000 scholarship from Weil.

The “legal innovators” are matched with Weil mentors and brought to New York for an orientation and closing reception. But there is no requirement that they work at Weil after graduation.

This year’s legal innovators are students accepted at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Duke University School of Law, Harvard Law School, the University of Michigan Law School, New York University School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

Several BigLaw firms fund fellowships, but they are offered to new law school grads. By taking a different tack, Weils “is raising its profile among students at top law schools before their legal careers even begin,” the Reuters article reports.

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