A lot of people talk about the “access to justice” gap. In 2007 Fred Rooney decided to do something about it. Applying lessons he’d learned helping a network of lawyers in New York build businesses to represent the poor and moderate means clients, Rooney created the first law firm incubator at CUNY School of Law.
His timing was fortuitous. In 2008, as the Great Recession bore down on the economy at large and legal in specific, law graduates turned to their schools for support. And law firm incubators - programs designed to provide help and support to inexperienced lawyers in launching law firms - exploded. There were 17 by 2013 and, at latest count, there are 40+ in various states of operation according to the ABA.
While the incubator movement was founded with an aim to help aspiring lawyer-entrepreneurs build practices to serve modest means consumers, it has expanded its mandate to help lawyers build scaleable law firms that are healthy businesses.
Back in 2015 I attended the annual fantastic (but unfortunately named) Access to Justice Through Incubator Programs and Non-Profit Law Firms Conference at California Western School of Law in San Diego. I was totally blown away by this amazing community. I had the good fortune to return to the conference, this time at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) and, well, I’ll just quote what I said about it in my yearly conference wrap-up blog post for 2016:
This is a scrappy, no-nonsense group committed to working to build law firms and legal services entities that serve consumers and employ lawyers. There’s little pretense, little formality, and a lot of problem-solving and learning.
We at Gravity Legal are very excited to sponsor this year’s virtual (and much improved from a name point of view) version of the legal incubator conference, the Transforming Legal Incubators and Virtual Law Practice conference hosted by Concord Law School on July 24, 2020.
The conference will feature a number of thoughtful, innovative, and entrepreneurial legal professionals and, as a major bonus, none other than Jack Newton, the CEO of Clio, as the keynote.
Registration is free - at least so long as there’s virtual capacity. If you’re a legal professional looking to start your practice or up your game, you should reserve your slot and be sure to be “there.” I won’t miss it.
And don't worry, Fred's still there. Advancing the movement. Leading the charge.