National Jurist - January 2011 - 6
A new program places recent University of Miami grads as six-month fellows with public service employers BY JACK CRITTENDEN
he University of Miami School of Law has launched an innovative new program that is designed to help recent graduates who are unemployed and to assist public service employers at the same time. It’s the kind of creative solution that many hope will catch on at other law schools. Legal Corps is a postgraduate fellowship program that places recent graduates who are admitted to a bar into jobs and pays them $2,500 a month for six months. “This allows for the fellows to have multiple positions to choose from, and it makes it competitive for employers.” White said more than 200 different agencies are participating, and the school hopes to place each fellow in their top five choice. “It’s a great opportunity for them to work in very good places with really good lawyers doing real work that will make a difference,” White said. “Some of them will end up with full-time jobs at these practicing on their own. The $2,500 monthly stipend is comparable to those given to postdoctoral fellows in other disciplines. “I hope this continues for the long term and that other schools emulate it,” she said. “There is an additional set of lessons that I hope the fellows learn. I hope they get bitten by the bug of public service work and realize that life is not just about dollars and cents. And for those who do move on to more lucrative practices, hopefully this
There are a lot of talented young lawyers graduating and a big shortage of lawyers in public service. This idea can be taken seriously by law schools as part of our responsibility to the profession.
— Patricia White, dean of the University of Miami School of Law
“This program is conceived as a way to provide help to the understaffed and overburdened public interest organizations, governmental agencies and courts whose funding has not kept pace with the workload of these challenging times and to provide training, experience and opportunity to our graduates,” said Patricia White, dean of the law school. The program, which was announced in the fall, started placing graduates this month. White said she expects 60 to 70 Miami graduates to enter the program. It is open to December 2009 and May 2010 graduates who have been admitted to a bar. “There are many more employment opportunities than fellows,” White said.
employers. Others will have skills that will be transferable to other employers.” Every other week of the fellowship, there is CLE training that teaches skills relevant to practicing law. White is hopeful that other law schools will follow their lead. “There are a lot of talented young lawyers graduating and a big shortage of lawyers in public service,” she said. “This idea can be taken seriously by law schools as part of our responsibility to the profession.” White said this could be the start of a program that is similar to residency programs for doctors — where students are required to work in the real world before
6 THE NATIONAL JURIST January 2011
will teach them to give back more in the long term.” Employers have responded enthusiastically about the program. “Opportunities where attorneys have the chance to really help individuals on a personal level are invaluable and the kind of experiences that can shape the career choices of young attorneys for the rest of their lives,” said Fernandez Rundle, MiamiDade State attorney. University of Miami is seeking donations from the private sector to fund the program. White said she is hopeful the school will raise the $900,000 to $1 million needed. But if it falls short, the school’s operating funds will cover the difference.