Providing guidance beyond law school through LawBridge™
It is widely acknowledged that the first 2-3 years of practice comes in a form of an apprenticeship which yields significant long-run benefits to the lawyer and the firm. FIU Law has responded to the need for trained lawyers by increasing clinical offerings and externship opportunities prior to graduation. To augment these efforts, FIU Law now offers a third option: a post-graduate program that provides new lawyers an opportunity to enter an apprenticeship with elements akin to both a medical school residency and a business school entrepreneurial incubator – the FIU LawBridge™: A Legal Residency Program.
FIU LawBridge™ is open to recent graduates of FIU Law who have been admitted to practice in Florida. Each participant agrees to enroll in the FIU LawBridge program for two years and to house their solo practice within the FIU LawBridge™ facilities. They meet with clients, set fee structures and manage their own attorney-client relationships. Each participant is expected to establish a client base and manage all aspects of the attorney-client relationship, and manage the business aspects of the practice as well. FIU Law will provide guidance in the establishment and operation of each participant’s law practice. Additionally, the participants will be provided with training in professionalism and ethics through a series of lectures and other course offerings throughout the term. FIU LawBridge™ participants will also be expected to engage in the community through extensive pro-bono services intended to provide further experience and foster deep community ties.
Additional support is provided to each participant in the areas of marketing and public relations, as well as in accounting and financial planning. Seasoned marketing professionals who focus on legal professionals meet with the participants regularly to work on such things as business card designs, website content and use, the “elevator pitch” and marketing initiatives. In the accounting and financial planning area, a locally based mid-size accounting firm provides each participant with all accounting and tax preparation services required during the two years in the FIU LawBridge™ program.
Program Overview and Participant Responsibilities
- Incorporation as a single shareholder professional association (PA) pursuant to Chapter 621 of the Florida Statutes, and the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar (“Ethics Rules”) applicable to the name of the entity and any limitations imposed therein.
- Open a commercial bank account for its operations, and an IOTA trust account for the handling of any funds held in trust, and provide guidance in the application of the Ethics Rules and sound business practices applicable to solo practitioners.
- Establish a website using a unique domain name. The selection of domains, establishment of websites, and use of related technologies will also be part of the training relative to marketing, website content, and compliance with the Ethics Rules.
- Obtain professional and commercial liability insurance from providers acceptable to FIU Law.
- Attend continuing legal education and professionalism and ethics lectures and courses presented or facilitated by FIU Law, as well as optional programs to meet other seasoned practitioners, judges, and individuals from other professions during regularly scheduled gatherings.
- Develop client acquisition and management skills.
FIU Law has secured Class A office space in the heart of Miami’s financial district, with exquisitely designed reception areas, conference rooms and work spaces. Being able to establish a law practices in this kind of an environment provides FIU LawBridge™ participants with an experience that is similar to that which many young lawyers have when they join large law firms.
FIU Law is excited about LawBridge™ and is looking forward to working with FIU Law graduates. We believe that LawBridge™ will have ripple effects on other graduates, current and future law students, other members of the profession, and the public at large as its participants fully integrate themselves into the practice of law.
Director, LawBridge™ – A Legal Residency Program