Many lawyers are daunted by the prospect of data, process, and technology. Yet, retooling might not be that hard.
Below is a list of knowledge, skills, and technologies learned this summer by three of my 1L Indiana Law students. The catalyst was a 3½-week program at the University of Colorado Law School in May combined with 10-week paid internships (still in-progress) at legal employers who value JDs with legal ops skills.
|Legal Operations Knowledge and Skills||Experience with Specific Software Technologies|
|1. Process mapping||Visio PRO|
|2. Document automation||Contract Express|
|3. Expert systems||Neota Logic|
|4. Data visualization and construction of metrics dashboards||Dundas BI|
|5. Database structuring and query writing||MS Access|
|6. Artificial Intelligence (AI) — various types and use cases|
|7. Open source versus proprietary software codebases|
|8. Speaking parts on calls with firm clients|
This is a lot of learning for a 1L summer program. In fact, this is just a lot of learning. Because rising 1Ls typically lack useful knowledge and experience, they are at high risk of being underemployed. Yet, therein lies the opportunity: With the right learning structure, these students can learn relatively rare and valuable skills very quickly.
Imagine the transformation of the legal industry if 20% of practicing lawyers acquired these same skills over a similarly short period of time. The primary obstacles to this outcome may be psychological rather than a shortage of time, money, or ability.
The credit for this quantum leap goes to the Tech Lawyer Accelerator (TLA) at CU Law. Originally organized by Bill Mooz as part of a practitioner-in-residence initiative funded by AccessLex Institute, the TLA is now in its fourth year. Because I played a role in its formation, a small number of Indiana Law students get to participate each year. Sometimes the dividends of our work far exceed our contributions and expectations. That certainly happened here.
Bill Mooz and I are currently working on plans to scale the TLA for the benefit of other law schools and legal employers. Stay tuned for that.
Here’s a shout-out to my wonderful students at Indiana Law and their first-rate summer employers: Ingrid Barce and Austin Brady at SeyfarthLean (part of Seyfarth Shaw); and Tony Schuering at Chapman & Cutler. Keep up the good work!
[Editor’s note: Later in 2017, the TLA became the basis for the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP, “I-flip”).
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