November 17 , 2011—The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law today announced that the new University Law Group program will begin offering low-cost legal services to Utahns, focusing on traditionally underserved populations while providing recent graduates with invaluable real world legal experience.
Dean Hiram Chodosh said, “The establishment of the University Law Group at the College of Law will address two major problems. First, the legal profession provides excellent legal services to large institutions and the wealthy, as well as a very small portion of the poor, leaving a vast number of under-served middle-class Americans and small businesses. Second, even though our school provides more service-learning training per student than any other law school in the country, we still need to diversify and expand clinical experiences to reach more low- and moderate income people and small businesses. This helps us move closer to our vision for a virtual training hospital for law, and thus, the University Law Group helps to meet these two important needs.”
University Law Group will provide relatively simple, short-term legal services to its clients. Over time, organizers expect the program will grow to address the basic legal needs of hundreds of Utahns each year. Many University Law Group services will be based on flat-rate fee arrangements, and costs will be limited to facilitate access to justice for small business and working families. Some of these services are likely to include advice on employment matters, family law, bankruptcy, minor trusts and estates, entity organization for start-up businesses, contractual disputes, small claims preparation, and research assistance.
Dennis Gladwell, a College of Law graduate and former partner in the prestigious law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, has agreed to run the pilot program. He echoes Chodosh’s enthusiasm: “Through this new approach to legal services and post-graduate mentoring, the College of Law will mirror the clinical configuration of the the U's medical school and adjoining hospital, an association unique to upper-tier medical schools like Stanford, UCLA and the U.”
Gladwell further explains that the University Law Group will not be controlled or operated by the College. “The firm will function as a privately operated stand-alone low-bono enterprise. It will rely heavily on referrals from downtown attorneys who cannot provide the representation needed by low- to-mid-level income families and individuals,“ he said.
University Law Group will start small, with a just few recent College of Law graduates. Organizers predict that it will grow to include as many as 15 post-graduates by next summer.