This article was written by Karl Florida, managing director of Small Law Firms at Thomson Reuters

Recently the small law firm business of Thomson Reuters participated in the Incubator Conference, a program that is taking off nationally, and among law schools in El Salvador, Dominican Republic, India, Pakistan and Kenya. All were represented on site at the event, which took place in New York a few weeks ago.

Incubator Conference attendees

Attendees at the Incubator Conference celebrated another year of innovative legal services that at once builds skills for future solo and small law firms, and serves an audience that could not otherwise afford legal service.

I think it’s the right time to talk about this important, venturous program that we sponsor.

What is the Incubator program? Essentially, it’s an effort to simultaneously serve an underserved audience—people who cannot afford traditional legal services—and jump-start the careers of law school students who intend to launch solo/small firms upon graduation. Legal services aren’t always affordable to those who need it most. The Incubator program, founded and led by Fred Rooney of the City University of New York School of Law, supplements the new firm’s education and income in order to enable those clients to receive legal services from those students.

On our end, we provide complimentary research access on WestlawNext for the 13 Incubator law schools. I see this innovative program as one of the more promising business-charitable partnership models that helps to reach an audience that is, to be blunt, growing.

The incubation method has proven to be successful in other areas of business, supporting startup technology and science, financial, and arts entrepreneurs. It’s no surprise that the same model would give rise to a promising set of solo and small law firms. And serving clients who could not otherwise afford legal help is a commendable way to put upstart legal/business talents to work.

Fred Rooney and John Tripp

Fred Rooney of the City University of New York School of Law (left), founder of the Incubator program, poses with John Tripp (right), representing Thomson Reuters small law firm business, a sponsor of the event and supporter of the innovative program.

I’ll close with a comment from John Tripp, my colleague and Westlaw consultant who was on-site at the event: “For me, it was amazing to hear the stories and witness a big change in the national and international landscape of legal counsel to the less fortunate.”

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