Arizona State to launch new training law firm

June 7, 2012 Douglas Sylvester, Dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State, is working on the first large-scale, nonprofit training law firm affiliated with a law school. The concept was inspired by the medical residency system for medical students, and is intended to give students real-world experience under close supervision.

The scheme will see five or six experienced lawyers acting as partners who supervise 15 to 30 recent graduates from the law school. The graduates spend a period - likely capped at two years - cycling through various areas of practice, charging fees at relatively low rates. The residents would be paid with benefits.

The model has a number of advantages. It addresses the problem that clients are increasingly unwilling to pay for the services of new lawyers, knowing that they are effectively subsidizing a legal traineeship. It readies law graduates for practice in a way that law school is unable to do. And the model also describes a not-for-profit firm that can offer low-cost legal services to an underserviced community.

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