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Legal Innovators, a new company in Washington D.C., intends to level the playing field for talented law graduates who have been overlooked by major law firms due to the rising costs of hiring new graduates.

Co-founders Jonathan Greenblatt, long-time arbitration attorney at Shearman, and Bryan Parker, an experienced technology and services CEO, will address the challenging roadblocks to employment at the country’s biggest law firms by offering new law-school graduates a two-year mentoring and training program that will position them to enter the workplace as mid-level associates. A recent article in reports that Legal Innovators “promises to give law students a back door into prestigious firms while offering these firms and corporate law departments a way to keep costs down on entry-level attorneys.”

Greenblatt explains that as entry-level salaries have increased in recent decades, law firms have become less likely to even consider candidates who “might not have clicked at their summer associate placement or performed markedly better in their second year compared to their first.” Greenblatt notes among other factors the cost of base salaries and law-firm real estate, as well as the reluctance of clients to pay high fees for entry-level lawyers. “It was my supposition that a lot of people in the third year of law school were competitive with the people that were getting in the door, but were finding not as many options as they anticipated.”

It is to those students that Legal Innovators will be offering their services. Clerks will work for “firms and corporate law departments who recognize the value of bringing in talent to perform associate-level work at a cheaper rate than the industry standard.” Along with seeking excellence among third-year students for admission to the program, Legal Innovators intends to address existing inequities in the legal community by aiming for high-percentage enrolments of women, African Americans, and other minorities.

Edge International’s David Cruickshank to Advise on Training

“Working with Legal Innovators, I have seen great potential for training and placing more diverse associates in top law firms,” says Edge International principal David Cruickshank, who is advising the company on training. “Law firm recruiting operations will have a new pool of practice-ready associates to consider.”

Legal Innovators launched its operations with an initial 16-person cohort from three universities in the Washington, D.C. area, and plans to expand to other major cities in the U.S. and around the world in the near future.

I would be interested to know your thoughts on the Legal Innovators program, or on any matter relating to the management of law firms. You can contact me either in the comments section below, or directly via email.