New Bootcamp Prepares Students For The Future Of Law Practice

Traditional legal education is failing to produce lawyers with skills that meet the demands of a modern legal market, according to Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Bill Henderson. That is why he and a group of innovative legal educators founded The Institute for the Future of Law Practice, a nonprofit that seeks to equip law students with in-demand skillsets.

IFLP (pronounced i–flip) will conduct summer bootcamps to train law students in disciplines that are left out of a traditional law school curriculum, such as cost accounting, finance, process management, project management, service design, marketing and data analytics.

“Legal education and the legal profession are at an inflection point where traditional models of education and practice no longer fit the shifting needs of the market,” wrote Henderson.

Law schools are not able to transition their core curriculum on their own, Henderson continued. The shift will require the “integration of law with problem-solving methods that are not legal in nature.” Moreover, practitioners and other legal professionals are already deploying new approaches to legal service delivery by leveraging data, process, project management and technology.

According to IFLP’s founders, the best way forward is to create an independent organization like IFLP that can coordinate the interests of legal employers, law students, law schools, clients, and the public interest. 

IFLP’s website states:

“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. These complaints are founded on a skills shortfall that can be addressed with training and a willingness on the part of lawyers to continue to acquire the disciplines necessary to meet client needs.”

“IFLP can help fill this void by identifying industry-leading practitioners and distilling their know-how and experience into an organized body of knowledge that can be taught to law students and mid-career legal professionals,” Henderson wrote. 

The bootcamp will offer two tracks: a Basic Track and an Advanced Track. The Basic Track will be for rising second-year law students. The program will be held at Northwestern University Prtizker School of Law and at the University of Colorado Law School and will conclude with a 10-week summer internship.

The Advanced Track will be conducted at Northwestern Law and is available to rising third year students. Following the completion of a combined five-week basic and advanced bootcamp, students will be placed in a seven-month internship.

The training programs and internship opportunities promise to provide experiential training and employment pipelines to the legal industry’s most innovative employers.

IFLP founders were inspired by the Tech Lawyer Accelerator program at Colorado Law. Since 2014, more than 80 students have participated in a similar bootcamp at the end of their first and second year of law school. The TLA focused on technology, legal processes and business skills. After the bootcamp, students spent the remainder of their summers in paid internships.

IFLP will be hosting training bootcamps in May 2018 at Northwestern Law and Colorado Law. The program currently includes four law schools, Northwestern Law, Colorado Law, Indiana Maurer Law and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.

The first iteration of the bootcamps will be limited to this small number of schools, but may expand in the future. IFLP needs to prove its value to students and employers while generating revenues that exceed operating costs.  At this early stage, the biggest need is legal employer participation and industry sponsors, Henderson wrote. 

Other IFLP founders include Dan Linna, the Director of Legal RnD, The Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law and Dan Rodriguez, Dean of Northwestern Law.


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Tyler Roberts is an editor for The National Jurist. You can follow him on Twitter at @wtylerroberts