Justice Entrepreneurs Project: Incubator for Young Lawyers

I’ve been looking around for different models of promoting entrepreneurship among JDs & young lawyers. There are a few interesting post-graduation incubators, that help recent law graduates get oriented and start their own practice. For example, Justice Entrepreneurs Project from the Chicago Bar Foundation.

The JEP not only gives young lawyers training to start their own law practice, it also promotes innovation in how lawyers serve clients. It’s trying to reimagine different parts of the service relationship, from how to find a client to how you price your services. For JEP’s current group of lawyers-in-incubation, the program centrally finds clients, and then distributes them among the lawyers — though the lawyers each practice in separate, individual firms.

Here’s a video from a Chicago television program spotlighting JEP:

The program marries start-up incubator techniques with legal training, trying to build more pathways for young lawyers to get jobs and to serve the middle or modest-means market of legal consumers.

The JEP is an incubator for recent law school graduates to start their own socially conscious law firms. The goal is to expand legal services to low and moderate income people by developing new models through which lawyers in solo or small practices can sustainably serve these clients.

Low and moderate income people represent a sizable gap in the current legal market—they earn too much to qualify for free legal aid but not enough to afford traditional firm rates. This leaves them with little access to reliable and affordable legal assistance, and as a result, more people than ever are going to court without the legal help they need.

At the same time, new lawyers are increasingly looking for nontraditional paths into the legal profession. JEP participants are talented and entrepreneurial newer lawyers chosen to be part of the program through a competitive selection process. They are committed to serving the community by providing quality, cost-effective legal services for this market. They are technologically savvy, they welcome innovation, and they understand the need to reinvent the traditional law practice.

JEP lawyers build sustainable, efficient and flexible practices by:

leveraging technology,

offering fixed fees and a la carte services, and

maximizing collaboration with their clients.

Borrowing principles from successful incubators in the business and technology fields, the JEP provides training, resources and support to participants in a collaborative office setting. The JEP also features a strong pro bono service component that places participants at partner legal aid organizations. This provides much-needed legal services for people in need while at the same time providing the JEP lawyers with vital experience and mentoring, and helping them build their networks.

The CBF makes this possible by bringing Chicago’s legal community together to support and collaborate in the program. The CBF leverages significant pro bono and in-kind donations to provide much of the training and resources and connects participants to a vast network of experience and expertise.

The JEP’s first group of 10 participants began in June 2013.


Here’s one more video about the program: