Apply to the JEP

At the Justice Entrepreneurs Project, we prepare talented and entrepreneurial lawyers in the Chicago area to build innovative, socially conscious, and thriving law practices serving low- and middle-income Chicagoans. We believe in the power of entrepreneurial lawyers to make a difference as solo practitioners in the quest to ensure access to justice for all.

Are you a lawyer interested in obtaining the skills and resources necessary to build an innovative and successful law practice? Are you interested in making a positive impact on your community as a social entrepreneur? We offer training, mentoring, a network of like-minded individuals, and subsidized resources to kick start a legal practice targeted at the underserved middle market of potential clients.

About JEP Participants

JEP is seeking lawyers who are:

  • Dedicated to establishing a long-term practice that serves the legal needs of low- and middle-income individuals and small businesses
  • Committed to providing access to justice and using the practice of law to enrich the lives of clients and build better communities
  • Interested in using technology and innovation to find new ways of providing cost-effective legal services
  • Enthusiastic about the prospect of becoming a social entrepreneur
  • Excited to explore new ideas about problem-solving and the practice of law by using a collaborative approach with other program lawyers, leaders in the legal profession, the community, and clients

Participants must:

  • Have an entrepreneurial spirit and, preferably, a track record of entrepreneurial, innovative, or creative activity
  • Have a demonstrated commitment to public service and access to justice
  • Have the ability to learn and apply new skills in high-need areas of law and inspire confidence in clients and the legal community
  • Have work experience indicating an aptitude for successfully operating your own business
  • Be creative, flexible, and adaptable to changing circumstances
  • Be a member of the Illinois bar in good standing at the start of the program (those who have taken the IL bar exam and are awaiting exam results may apply; acceptance into the program will be conditioned on passing the bar exam and being admitted to practice)
  • Have graduated from law school in the last ten years (the program is intended for lawyers eager to innovate and advance the profession, not those entrenched in traditional practice models; exceptions to the graduation year guideline are made on a case by case basis)
  • Commit to 18 months of active participation in the JEP, and plan to continue practicing after participation

Those chosen to participate in the program will receive:

  • Top-notch training on substance, skills and law practice management
  • Expert coaching and assistance on business issues and client development
  • Mentoring by experienced and respected practitioners
  • A structured pro bono program providing hands-on legal experience and a better understanding of the legal aid community and the legal service delivery system
  • Shared office space in a collaborative environment that fosters innovation and peer mentoring
  • Practice resources, including law practice management technology and legal research tools
  • Access to a variety of helpful networks through the CBA, CBF, and other partners
  • The ability to collaborate with peers and other successful practitioners

About the JEP Program

Participants in the JEP develop their practices while receiving training, mentoring and other support on business and legal issues as well as space and other infrastructure as they get started. The 18-month program is broken into three 6-month modules. In the first module, participants perform pro bono work approximately 20 hours per week with partner legal aid organizations. Throughout that time, participants receive training, workshops, and coaching on business and other issues needed to start a solo/small practice. Participants establish their own independent practices (including providing their own malpractice insurance), begin handling cases in areas traditionally needed by low and middle-income legal consumers, and strive to offer predictable and fixed, modular fee models for their services. During the second and third modules, participants develop fuller caseloads and continue to receive training, mentoring, and coaching on business and legal issues, preparing to move their practices out of the JEP at the end of the 18 months. Participants pay a participation fee of $300 per month during the last 12 months of the program.

Questions? See the Frequently Asked Questions for potential participants.

Application Process

Information sessions to learn more about the program will be held via zoom on Monday, March 29, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Tuesday, March 30, 2021, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Click here to register for an info session.

To apply, please submit your application packet Jessica Bednarz, Director of Innovation & the JEP, at Application packets must include a resume, a copy of your law school transcript, and a statement of interest of no more than 3 pages: describing (1) your vision for your practice (including practice areas and target markets) and your participation in the JEP and (2) a circumstance when you have demonstrated entrepreneurial initiative or another experience that demonstrates your ability to be a successful social entrepreneur. Please apply by no later than Friday, April 9, 2021, to be considered for the next JEP cohort. Two rounds of interviews will be held in mid-April and early May. Selections will be made at least three weeks prior to the June 7, 2021 start date.

The Justice Entrepreneurs Project is an incubator designed to help lawyers develop the skills necessary to create and operate a thriving law practice that provides affordable legal services to low and middle-income people and small businesses. Participation in the JEP creates an immediate positive impact on the community through participants’ bono work and provision of affordable legal services. The JEP ultimately hopes to create long-term community impact by incubating law practices that will operate over the long-term. If your ultimate goal is job placement rather than creating your own law practice, please do not pursue participation in the JEP.

For more information, contact Jessica Bednarz, Director of Innovation & the JEP, at 312.546.9939 or