Whittier Law School Partners with Legal Aid Society to Create Unique Incubator Program

Law school incubator is the first partnership between a law school and a legal aid society

COSTA MESA, CALIF. – Dec 4, 2014 – Beginning in January 2015, the Whittier Legal Access Program will match clients in need of affordable legal services with recent Whittier Law School graduates seeking to establish their own law practices. This “incubator” program was created by partnering with non-profit Legal Aid Society of Orange County, a new concept in incubator programs.

Spearheaded by Associate Dean Martin Pritikin, the Whittier Legal Access Program is designed to help alumni gain the business and practical skills critical to success as a solo practitioner. He notes, “This partnership between a law school and a non-profit legal aid society is the first of its kind, and may ultimately serve as a model throughout the nation.”

Legal Aid Society of Orange County will provide the attorneys with client referrals as well as shared office space and infrastructure, partially subsidized by the law school. Both organizations provide legal and business mentoring to help the attorneys grow their practices successfully. In return, the program helps recent graduates to avoid unemployment and gain experience—and helps the public as well.

“There’s a problem in the legal profession. There are millions of Californians who aren’t necessarily poor enough to qualify for legal aid, but they can’t possibly afford prevailing lawyer rates. At the same time, you have recent graduates who are hungry for experience and need to build their practices. The Whittier Legal Access Program matches these two needs to create a win-win for the graduates and the community,” said Martin Pritikin, Associate Dean of Whittier Law School.

Prior to serving clients, attorneys in the program go through a “boot camp” to brush up on basic practice skills, and receive regular training classes on selected topics, as well as weekly case review sessions with retired bench officers. The attorneys will be sharing space and resources, but they must each start their own firm, or join with other attorneys to start a firm. “One of the most exciting aspects is that attorneys will have the ability to collaborate and learn from one another,” says Pritikin. “Although participants are solo attorneys, they aren’t alone.”

About Whittier Law School:
Founded nearly 50 years ago and accredited by the American Bar Association since 1978, Whittier Law School offers a practical, hands-on legal education with experiences in the legal field to prepare lawyers for today’s practice. The student body at Whittier Law School is ranked as the most diverse in California, and the third most diverse in the nation. For more information, visit www.law.whittier.edu or call (714) 444-4141 ext. 131.

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