Leave it to legal tech innovator and law professor, Bill Henderson to be part of a new nonprofit, the Institute for the Future of Law Practice, that will coordinate the entry level law school market around an updated and modernized curriculum.
Traditional legal service models are breaking down. Law students are graduating from law school unprepared for the demands of the consumers of legal services, assuming even law firms are.
Law schools, like many law firms, are debating the need for change without taking the action needed. They’re often paralyzed by traditional bureaucracy.
A core group of lawyers, legal educators, allied professionals and corporate legal leaders (Shell, Cisco, Archer Daniels Midland) — many of whom I know well via common beliefs on innovation and tech — believe that the best way forward is to create an independent organization that can coordinate the interests of law students, law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments, NewLaw service providers, and legal technology companies.
The Institute will provide both training programs for law students and a talent pipeline for the legal industry’s most advanced and sophisticated legal employers.
Through internships companies get the unique opportunity to access a pre-screened pool of specially trained candidates. Students get real-world experience, while learning from professionals in leading organizations.
The Institute has already made good progress in its pilot.
- The Institute has worked with over 80 students. Students completed an academic program and worked at leading companies.
- The Institute is working with 20 leading companies that offer students real-world experience.
- For the 2018 application cycle, the Institute is partnering with the law schools at Colorado, Indiana, Northwestern, and Osgoode Hall (Toronto).
Clients have for years been complaining about their lawyers’ inability to understand the business climate in which they operate, to manage processes, projects and risks, and to cost and price effectively and in a manner that equates price and value.
The Institute’s first initiative is building educational boot camps for rising 2L and 3L law students. Each student admitted to the program is paired with a legal employer for either a 10-week summer internship or a 7-month field placement. All internships and field placements are paid.
The Institute’s Boot Camps provide training on disciplines that are necessary during the age of innovation: cost accounting, finance, process management, project management, service design, marketing, and data analytics.
What Was the Impetus of the Institute?
The founders of IFLP were inspired by their experience with the Tech Lawyer Accelerator (TLA) program at Colorado Law. Since 2014, approximately 80 students (most from Colorado Law, some from Indiana Law) have participated in a 3½ week bootcamp at the end of their 1L or 2L year. The TLA focused on technology, process, and business skills, with students spending the balance of their summers in 10-week paid internships. In some cases, the internships were extended to seven months (the summer and fall of students’ 3L year). Colorado Law’s TLA is the foundation for the first iteration of IFLP. For additional background on the TLA, see Post 018 (summarizing topics covered in the 2017 TLA).
During four years of operation, TLA has garnered very favorable feedback from students and employers. But more significantly, we received “pull” from several employers to expand the program’s breadth and capacity. (emphasis added)
Legal Employers and Sponsors Needed
Again from Henderson:
FLP is not an exclusive club. However, to be successful, we have to meet a market test. This means offering an educational product that is valuable to students and employers while also generating revenues in excess of operating costs. In our first iteration, we are limiting participation to a small number of schools. We need to work through the myriad of issues associated with cross-school collaboration. This is complex and requires us to go slow. The goal, however, is to create a foundation that can support future growth.
At present, we are most in need of legal employers. If your organization wants to co-create a world-class educational program that can fill your need for world-class talent, please contact us. We are also in need of industry sponsors who are willing to subsidize IFLP in its early days. We are fortunate to have a handful of benefactors who are getting us off the ground. The payoff is affiliation with a promising nonprofit working to align the interests of industry stakeholders. Announcement of our full roster of participating organizations and sponsors will occur later this spring.
For law schools and law faculty, we encourage you to visit the programs in Boulder and Chicago. We value your input and are willing to share what we are learning. With success, we will be able to expand to include more member schools. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us at this link.
The Institute is an impressive idea that I expect will succeed.
What’s more impressive than anything is the idea of just picking up the ball and running with it. Rather than work through large law firms, bar associations (particularly the ABA), law schools and large legal publishers, all which where innovation has gone to die — or at best moved far too slow, these folks are moving with sound ideas — and moving now.
Elon Musk didn’t wait for NASA to restore space travel for this country. The Institute didn’t wait for law schools to deliver necessary change.