...The result is a nonprofit law firm that Arizona State [University] is setting up this summer for some of its graduates. Over the next few years, 30 graduates will work under seasoned lawyers and be paid for a wide range of services provided at relatively low cost to the people of Phoenix.
The Arizona State approach, called the Alumni Law Group, appears to be the most ambitious because of the number of lawyers it will employ (30), its projected cost (a commercial firm of comparable size would cost $5 million a year to run, according to the school’s projections) and its hope to be self-sufficient in a couple of years by charging for its services and gathering donations.
...The plan is to have four to five groups of lawyers each overseen by a full-time, salaried supervising lawyer serving a range of clients. The firm will do legal work for other parts of the university, including its high-tech innovation center. The aim is to charge $125 an hour in an area where the going hourly rate is $250. The school also says it wants to reach out to veterans, Hispanics and American Indians whose legal needs are not well met.
...Arizona’s plan, mooted at bar meetings and within law school circles, is producing envy — but also skepticism. Some see a naked attempt to improve the school’s ratings in U.S. News and World Report by increasing the percentage of its graduates who find work while doing little to address the access-to-justice problem.
Critics say that $125 an hour is too high to serve those in need and too low to break even...Isn't this sort of like a postdoc for lawyers? You graduate and take a lower paying job for more training? (Of course, here it really does seem like there might be an undeserved population -- but isn't that what law school clinics are for?) I think it's an interesting approach, but it sounds like it might cannibalize the business of local attorneys (or at least serve to lower their fees.)