Pitt Legal Services Incubator
Applications for the 2017 incubator group will open Oct. 3, 2016 with a start date of Jan. 3, 2017. Space is limited. For more information, contact Program Director Paula Hopkins. The program is open to all Pitt Law graduates who are admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
A Professional Home for Entrepreneurial Lawyers
The Pitt Legal Services Incubator program ("PLSI") is an innovative program designed to support Pitt Law alumni in their development of financially sustainable solo or small firm practices.
Before reviewing the features of the program itself, it’s best to begin with the “Why” question. The professional path of the PLSI supported lawyer is not for everyone. Thus, you must ask yourself—Why might the hard and demanding work of building a law business from scratch be right for you?
Consider the following possibilities
- You have a vision for your law practice—a vision that cannot be realized by joining a conventional law firm—and you will not be satisfied with your career until that vision is fulfilled.
- The challenge of starting your own business is exhilarating in a scary sort of way.
- The jobs that you have been offered do not meet your personal goals for work-life balance.
- You have innovative ideas for the delivery of legal services that will bring value to your clients—and may allow you to bring quality legal services to currently underserved client communities.
- You value professional autonomy to the extent that you will trade off a monthly paycheck to hold on to it.
- To achieve your vision, goals and ideas, you need an affordable, cooperative office space, a program to help you launch your practice and the PLSI network to support you.
If one or more of the following statements resonate with your professional self-conception, launching your own practice may be what you truly desire—and PLSI may be the place to begin.
Here’s what the PLSI program looks like
Each year PLSI will select four to six recent law graduates to participate in the program. We are looking for entrepreneurial-minded lawyers seeking to build financially sustainable practices across a range of practice areas and client communities. PLSI imposes no conditions on the practice areas chosen by the lawyers it supports and does not limit the client communities you choose to serve.
Lawyers selected for the program will have offices within a newly renovated wing of the Barco Law Building. Within this new cooperative workspace, each lawyer will have an assigned individual workstation and will share a large common area with a multi-function office machine, WiFi, and a kitchenette. Two separate conference rooms appropriate for meeting with clients are also provided.
Because the greatest challenge for the entrepreneurial lawyer is the development of a viable and sustainable business, the formal PLSI program focuses on the business side of law practice. PLSI attorneys each develop detailed business plans for their practices that they will adapt to their growing business. To assist the lawyers in the development of their capacities in the delivery of legal services, the program will facilitate relationships between the PLSI attorneys and experienced attorney mentors in the relevant substantive law areas.
PLSI offers up to two years of residency for the chosen lawyers. But some lawyers will need less time to achieve professional self-sufficiency. For this reason, a PLSI supported lawyer who is ready to leave ahead of the two year schedule may depart the program at any time by providing only 30 days’ advance notice.
Each PLSI attorney is obliged to pay a monthly license fee for the office space and amenities provided. The license fee, however, is waived for the first four months of residency. The fee is $100 monthly for months five through eight; $200 monthly for the balance of the first year; and $250 monthly thereafter. The fee structure takes account of the financial struggle that most lawyers face as they build a new business. Thus, the PLSI program imposes no additional expense to the start up lawyer for the first four months—providing time for the lawyer to ramp up their practice and begin to develop a meaningful and sustainable revenue stream. At the same time, it is critical that each lawyer fulfill their financial obligations to the program as those fees become due and thus begin to work within a budget that helps them prepare to leave PLSI and enter the non-subsidized legal office market.
If you have a strong sense of the “Why” and are drawn to the kind of support and structure PLSI offers, please consider applying for a spot in the new class of PLSI supported entrepreneurial lawyers at Pitt Law.
For more information, please contact Program Director Paula Hopkins
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