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It's a New Deal for the Great Recession. Law schools all around the country have been faced with high unemployment numbers for recent grads, but the University of Miami School of Law has decided to do something about it. The U of Miami has announced the creation of the Law Corps whose purpose will be to place graduates in public agencies, public interest organizations, and judicial chambers in Florida and throughout the country.
Those participating in the Law Corps will receive a monthly stipend of $2,500 and must also attend twice a week professional development sessions, according to the University. The sessions will be worth almost two years of CLE credits.
The fellowship positions granted to the Miami graduates last for six months, according to Miami Law Dean Patricia D. White. This length of time will allow the new members of the profession time to learn valuable skills and make connections. The Dean notes that the stipend is not large, but is on par with fellowship programs for post-docs in other fields.
The fellowship program will not only help bridge a gap for new lawyers seeking employment, it will help a public sector under fire from budget cuts as well. "At a time when the public sector is hurting because of budget cuts and law firms are not hiring at the rate they used to, Legal Corps provides a new way of giving recent graduates the opportunity to gain valuable experience while at the same time providing much needed assistance to those entities in the public sector with a critical need for legal resources," said U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan, a Miami alum.
According to the University, the overall response from the legal community in the area has been very positive. Members of the community say the Legal Corps program will help foster responsible lawyering in young attorneys, expose grads who never thought of public service to that area of practice and even, as one judge phrased it, resembles an apprenticeship program, something the legal profession "should have should have been doing all along."
The Legal Corps is national in scope and will be open to all University of Miami Law graduates, beginning with the class of December 2009, who have been admitted to a state bar.