In 1997, with grants from the Open Society Institute’s Program on Law & Society, the University of Maryland School of Law joined three other law schools to launch the Law School Consortium Project (LSCP). The LSCP was conceived as an experiment to design, evaluate, and promote programs that extend the educational and professionalism missions of law schools beyond graduation to provide training, mentoring, and other support to solo and small-firm lawyers. By helping this segment of the legal profession develop economically viable and professionally satisfying practices, the Project ultimately sought to increase the availability of quality legal services for low and moderate-income individuals and communities.
The Project’s founding members felt the Project would address a number of important concerns:
In order to address these concerns, each member school worked to develop a practitioner network to provide resources and services to solo and small-firm lawyers who are committed to serving low and moderate-income individuals and communities. The LSCP supported each school in its efforts by providing informational resources and other support for developing programs.
The Project demonstrated that by supporting solo and small-firm practitioners who share a desire to provide affordable legal assistance, law schools can enable them to have satisfying and economically viable careers while serving the needs of low and moderate-income individuals and communities. In supporting these practitioners, law schools are able to expand the field of public interest practice by providing students with employment options that enable them to develop public interest practices that serve underrepresented individuals and communities and allowing students to engage in work about which they care deeply.
In 2009, the National Board of the Law School Consortium Project went into a state of rest, having achieved its goal of establishing successful practitioner networks to assist solo and small-firm lawyers serving low and moderate-income individuals and communities nationwide. Local and regional LSCP initiatives continue to work together on an ad-hoc basis, furthering the mission and goals of LSCP and networking to increase access to justice.