A startup designed to train, mentor and pay law firm associates has signed a new group of high-ranking law schools to its program, including New York University School of Law and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
Legal Innovators was launched in late 2019 with an initial cohort of three participating law schools, which has now grown to 11. Founded by attorneys who’ve practiced at Shearman & Sterling, the startup intends to employ students out of law school for Big Law to hire on an outsourced basis, providing an alternative to the usual training and recruitment route at law firms.
Legal Innovators has said its program will also promote diversity in the legal industry.
Aside from NYU and Northwestern, the new collaborating schools announced Feb. 28 include New York University School of Law, the University of Virginia School of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School, and Boston University School of Law, as well as three other prominent law schools.
“These relationships are part of our growth and recruitment strategy to meet the demand for skilled junior legal talent in D.C., New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and beyond,” said Bryan Parker, the chief executive and co-founder of Legal Innovators, in a statement.
“Strong relationships with law schools help us recruit the best talent, including those from diverse backgrounds, ” he said.
Parker, a former Shearman & Sterling associate, said the new outsourcing service would provide an alternative to the high costs of training and paying new associates. Especially in the past decade, corporate clients have resisted these costs, which may be passed along as part of overall legal billing.
Law schools can help identify students to participate with Legal Innovators. Once hired, they receive ongoing training and mentorship for two years at a law firm or corporate counsel office. Legal Innovators expects that many participants will later be hired on a full-time track, and that the program will be able to expand the number of women and minorities who are hired by law firms and corporate legal departments.
That was a draw for Vanderbilt Law, when it announced its participation, that Legal Innovators “shares our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
Elizabeth Workman, assistant dean at Vanderbilt Law’s Office of Career Services, said in a statement that the program “offers a new approach to entry into Big Law, as well as an extensive training and mentoring program.”
When the startup was launched late last year, it was collaborating with Georgetown University Law Center, the George Washington University Law School, and Howard University School of Law.