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C|M|LAW is among the first law schools in the country to create a solo practice incubator for graduates to jumpstart their careers as independent practitioners.
The incubator will be housed in a portion of the existing law library with a separate entrance from East 18th Street, and will offer low-rent office space, conference rooms, and a reception area for up to 15 practitioners who are recent graduates of C|M|LAW. When the doors open to the Class of 2013 next fall, it will be the only law school-housed solo practice incubator in Ohio, and one of fewer than 10 nationwide.
The incubator concept grew from C|M|LAW’s recent initiatives to train and support the nearly 15% of its graduates who go into solo practice each year. In 2011, the law school recruited alumni solo practitioners to form a task force that offers current law students counseling, coaching, and specially targeted programming on practice areas commonly encountered in solo practice. After consultation with Fred Rooney from CUNY (City University of New York) Law School, where the first law school-run incubator was established in 2007, C|M|LAW began to seriously plan for the creation of its own incubator.
“Solo practice has often been seen as a fallback career choice when a graduate did not obtain a position with a firm,” said C|M|LAW Dean Craig Boise. “We are now offering students the resources to explore solo practice as a viable, chosen career path early in their law school education, and then provide them with affordable office space close to the courts and our law library once they graduate.”
C|M|LAW’s key partner in the incubator endeavor is the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, which has agreed to provide solo practitioners with additional resources, including reduced-cost health and liability insurance, mentoring, and vendor discounts.
“This is a tremendously important project for Cleveland’s legal community,” said Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association President and C|M|LAW alumnus Carter Strang. “We are one of the premier legal markets in the nation. Through this partnership, CMBA and C|M|LAW are cultivating a new group of entrepreneurial professionals with the potential to create more growth in our community.”
In addition to supporting graduates set up their practices, the law school envisions the incubator as having a positive impact on the broader community. Resident lawyers will be encouraged to provide low-cost legal service to clients who may not qualify for legal aid but are unable to pay the higher legal fees charged by larger firms.