IntheBenches: Filling the Gap in Mentorship

As a legal tech startup mentor, advisor, and tech news follower, it’s clear to me that news about legal tech startups has become much more common today than just a couple of years ago. Much of the discussion in the legal tech startup world has been around legal marketplaces (sites that connect consumers of legal services with lawyers). In fact, just recently one such marketplace, Avvo, raised $71.5 million dollars putting its estimated value at $650 million dollars. With valuations like that it is really easy to dominate headlines and leave little room for news about other legal tech startups that are having a positive impact on the legal industry.

Today, I am going to change that by introducing you to IntheBenches.

Started by former Assistant New York District Attorney and Harvard Law graduate, Andrea Woloski, IntheBenches is solving the mentorship and post graduate advice problem through an online mentorship platform that allows law students and recent grads to interact with more experienced lawyers. IntheBenches offers a mentorship program that matches law students and young lawyers with experienced attorneys in the careers they aspire to for career mobility chats, to get a peek into what these jobs are really like, and advice on how to get there. Attorneys who have participated in these chats include:

  • In-house attorneys at Fortune 500 companies
  • In-house attorneys at professional sports teams
  • BigLaw partners and associates
  • Prosecutors
  • Federal defenders
  • Ivy league law professors
  • Attorneys who have switched to other industries including tech, politics, and finance

IntheBenches also allows students and attorneys to interact either anonymously or for all the members to see on a discussion platform that has been described as a sort of Reddit for lawyers and encourages discussion about general legal issues. Users post questions, legal news articles, or topics of interest to them about anything related to the law and can be anonymous or as transparent as they like.

When I asked her why she decided to start IntheBenches, Woloski said that it“was a passion project. I wanted to launch something that was useful for law students and new lawyers. After law school, students have a steep learning curve to integrate into the world of legal practice, and finding a community of JDs to learn from would make the transition smoother and set them up for a more satisfying career in both the short and long term.” Like other early stage tech startups, participation on IntheBenches is free, for now. However, like all businesses, you’ll need revenue to sustain your operations and it will be interesting to see how this product evolves.

With several hundred users already registered on the platform in the couple of months since its launch, it seems her passion is resonating with law students and lawyers alike. You only need to spend a little time on popular law related listservs to see why this modern approach to participating in an online community makes sense and that adoption is strong.

Though the legal tech space is crowded with marketplaces and software as service products, it’s refreshing to see one startup focused on the success of the people that make the industry work: lawyers. I’d be interested in hearing about your law school and post grad stories, so share them in the comments below.

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