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1.800.973.1177CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNERPAGE 1A growing number of people fresh out of lawschool are considering another opt...
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  1. 1. 1.800.973.1177CAREER COUNSELOR’S CORNERPAGE 1A growing number of people fresh out of lawschool are considering another option to thetraditional law firm, non-profit, government,or corporation legal job choices -- solo prac-tice. And law-school based support programsare making that choice easier to make thesedays.The Law School Consortium Project wascreated in 1997 to help law schools supportalumni who decide to go it alone. The ideais to use grant money to provide mentoringand networking, client referral services andtraining and assistance with office and busi-ness management, to graduates fresh out ofschool or a few years into their careers, whowant to hang out a shingle and work withmoderate income clients.Today, 10 law schools have these programsto support graduates in solo practice doingthat kind of “low bono” work. Another 20schools are making plans to establish similarservices in the near future.“It’s difficult for a lot of people who wantto do something that offers a combinationof community service and entrepreneurialprivate experience as well,” said Lovely Dhil-lon, executive director of the Consortium.“This offers them a chance to see somethingelse other than firm work or pro bono withan agency. They can see that they can createsomething for themselves, that there areother options and there are ways that youwill be supported.”Fred Rooney runs the Community LegalResource center, the Consortium project atCity University of New York School of Law atQueens College in Flushing, N.Y. - the firstsuch project established. He said he doesn’tgenerally encourage brand new law gradu-ates to take advantage of the workshop andnetworking services offered by his program.Rather, he hopes they will gain some hands-on experience before making the leap to solopractice. However, he said today the option isappealing to many new graduates.Due to a lot of factors beyond our control,including the economy and personalities ofgraduates, some people are choosing to [gosolo at graduation],” he said. “If that’s thecase, we will be there to support our gradu-ates.”That support has included providing projectmembers with free legal office managementsoftware and training in how to use it, givingthem donated hand held personal organiz-ers, and holding monthly seminars on topicsof interest to people going it alone. ElaineCates, a 2002 graduate of CUNY, joined theCUNY group and took the classes in how torun a small legal business.“There is a database of graduates onlinewhere you can post a question and responsesback,” she said. “I have gone in and looked atthe interaction and it seems very helpful, andvery hopeful for us.”Peter Holland graduated from the Universityof Maryland School of Law in Baltimore 10years ago, joined that school’s Consortiumgroup, Civil Justice, and started his ownpractice.“Civil Justice has helped me in so manyways,” Holland said. “The people there haveopened doors for me. They have lent memoral support when I was full of self-doubt.They have shared their pleadings and theirwar stories with me. They showed me how tobetter market myself. They showed me howto earn a living while fulfilling my mission ofwhy I went to law school.”Holland is excited that the idea is gaininginterest at more schools.“Imagine what it will be like when we have anarmy of lawyers across the country who arein private practice, but who are committedto public interest legal work,” he said. “Asthe students begin to see us as role models,they will continue to change their percep-tion of what is a respectable job and they willcontinue to build aspirations to do somethingother than mergers and acquisitions or what-ever the big firms are doing.”This story appeared in the March, 2003 edi-tion of The National Jurist, www.nation-aljurist.comGoing Solo[Rebecca Luczycki]Help available for graduates going into private law practice.

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