Legal Services Incubator to Open in 2016

Issue Date: 
September 28, 2015

A new program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law will help recent Pitt law graduates develop solo practices or small firms dedicated to the region’s underserved communities.

The Pitt Legal Services Incubator will open in January 2016 and will provide its lawyers with office space in the School of Law as well as technology support, training, and mentoring. Each year, six to eight recent law graduates will be selected for the two-year program. At full occupancy, the incubator will provide a professional home for 12 to 16 young lawyers. Experienced practitioners will mentor the new attorneys in both legal matters and practice development.

The program will be the first of its kind in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the second in Pennsylvania, said William M. Carter Jr., dean and professor in Pitt’s School of Law.  

“This exciting and innovative initiative will aid our community by helping to fill gaps in access to legal services,” Carter said. “It will also aid recent graduates by providing them with mentoring and support as they launch their legal careers.” 

Pitt Law and its Innovation Practice Institute will hire an Innovation Fellow to help set best practices for the incubator’s outreach and delivery of legal services to its clients. The program will serve individuals whose incomes exceed the limit to receive free assistance from legal-services agencies but who cannot afford conventional lawyers’ hourly rates. 

Thomas RossThomas Ross, a professor in Pitt’s law school, will serve as the incubator’s inaugural faculty director. 

“This program will increase access to justice in our region and help recent grads develop financially sustainable practices,” said Ross. “The presence of the incubator within the building will also provide a big boost in the school’s ongoing program of developing practice-ready graduates.”

The forthcoming incubator is one of only three programs nationwide to receive an American Bar Association Catalyst Grant this year. The program’s application process will begin in late October.