My job at the Commission is to be a change agent for the profession. In my travels, I am regularly reminded that the law profession is made up of many constituent parts and you can’t change the whole without the parts. Law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments, the judiciary–all are part of the profession. And now legal service providers and legal technology companies, not necessarily graduated by our law schools or licensed by our judiciaries, need to be part of the conversation. That’s why I am thrilled to be on the board of an organization bringing this all together in a new way: the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP).
IFLP is Developing New Legal Talent Needed for a New World
Legal services are not being deployed in the way they were a few years (or a hundred years) back. Which means we need lawyers trained with new skills using new methodologies. And unfortunately, law schools are not equipped at this time to provide the training. As explained by Prof. Bill Henderson, one of the founders of IFLP, on his blog:
Law schools are unable to make this transition on their own. This is because (a) the shift in practice requires an integration of law with problem-solving methods that are not legal in nature (e.g., data, process, project management, technology, and team-based collaboration); and (b) the state of the art for these new approaches to practice are currently being developed in the field by practitioners and other allied professionals.
IFLP, a nonprofit collaboration between law schools and industry, is helping to fill this void. Through its volunteer board, it seeks to create training and internship programs that serve law students (through high quality employment) and legal employers (through a rich pool of applicants with an expanded set of skills and knowledge).
IFLP Bootcamps for New Legal Talent
This summer, building on smaller pilot programs in Colorado and Toronto, IFLP tested its intermediary approach by hosting three-week training bootcamps in Chicago (at Northwestern Law) and Boulder (at Colorado law). The bootcamps prepared forty law students selected from four law schools in subjects including data, process, tech and business operations for sophisticated legal and business work settings. After the bootcamps, students were placed in either a 10-week internship or a 7-month field placement.
Some of the founding sponsors of this class include Chapman and Cutler, Elevate, and Cisco, as well as ADM, Auto-Owners Insurance, Bryan Cave, Honigman, Neota Logic, Orrick, Relativity, Seyfarth Shaw, and Thompson Hine. All internships and field placements were paid.
Growing IFLP’s Approach to Developing New Legal Talent
Feedback from the summer was positive. So much so that law schools are clamoring to have their students considered for next year’s class. See the 2019 curriculum here. And many additional legal employers are interested in hiring interns trained through the IFLP bootcamps.
The intent is to expand the opportunities in steady waves to more students and legal employers each year. The goal for 2019 is to add at least 60 internships for law students from ten additional law schools across the United States and Canada.
Keep an eye on this model. It is scalable. And it just may save our profession from irrelevancy.
If you’re in Chicago and interested in learning more, there are still spots available for an informational program on the next wave of IFLP on Wednesday, September 12 at BMO Harris, 115 S. LaSalle from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. You can register for the September 12 event here.