IFLP is proud to collaborate with the above list of innovators and early adopters.
Later this month, the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP, or “I-flip”) will celebrate its one year anniversary. Before that, it was just an idea in the minds of a few dozen lawyers, legal educators and allied professionals. In the fall of 2017, this “Group of 40” participated in a needs analysis. There were two questions: Is an intermediary organization needed to align the interests of law schools, legal employers and clients around the educational requirements of 21st century law practice? And if so, could such an organization become a viable nonprofit operating company?
The Group of 40 concluded that the period of industry-wide discussion and debate, which began in earnest after the 2008 financial crisis, had run its natural course. It was time to start building the future. Thus, an organization like IFLP was worth a try.
The Group of 40 endorsed the creation of a skills bootcamp in spring 2018 for a group of roughly 25 students. A key feature would be paid internship employment for every admitted student. By hiring students, IFLP employers would be signalling the value of IFLP training. Eventually the rest of the market would catch on. In a nutshell, that was the model.
Initially IFLP’s only assets were relationships, albeit that was huge. In November of 2017, Cisco Systems committed to six paid 7-month internships ($300,000+ in salaries). Northwestern Law committed classroom space for the inaugural bootcamp. In addition to hiring IFLP grads, Chapman and Cutler and Elevate Services agreed to provide year-one operating capital (later Quislex provided additional founding sponsor support). A wonderful group of professionals agreed to serve on our volunteer board. Another dozen-plus industry leaders agreed to serve as volunteer instructors. All this happened because of a network of professional peers with significant history and a reservoir of trust.
Drawing upon this foundation, IFLP was brought into this world on January 16, 2018 as a Delaware nonprofit nonstock corporation. A few days later, we launched a website and started recruiting employers. Before we had a checking account, we were interviewing students for the bootcamp. See Post 043 (announcing launching of IFLP); Post 046 (providing an early days account).
The inaugural bootcamp went well. We faithfully collected metrics on all of it. In the fall of 2018, as we began to plan for 2019, we finally had the bandwidth to create a logo and refresh the website with content that reflected our longer-term aspirations.
As we approach our one year anniversary, IFLP is immensely grateful to the above roster of 2019 IFLP employers. These are the legal industry’s innovators, early adopters, and opinion leaders. To fill all the employment slots, IFLP will be running skills bootcamps in Boulder (Colorado Law), Chicago (Northwestern), and Toronto (Osgoode Hall) for 75 to 90 students. We have room for approximately ten additional employer slots before we hit maximum capacity. Our existing funnel of prospective employers is likely to yield that. Likewise, in 2019 we are fortunate to have 18 participating law schools, see list on IFLP website, with plans to add more in 2020.
As the title of this post suggests, this is an update on IFLP. I have time to write it because the IFLP board and leadership team has done a very good job of building an infrastructure that can scale. As of today, our expansion is on schedule. Below I will do my best to describe the organization’s current activities and future plans. The good news is that we are building a big tent for those wanting to co-create a better future.
For the pre-history of IFLP, including the indispensable role of the Colorado Law’s Tech Lawyer Accelerator (TLA) Program, see Henderson & Linna, “Is Your Organization Building a World-Class Talent Pipeline?,” Law.com, Aug. 31, 2018; see also Post 018 (discussing TLA during the summer of 2017).
IFLP’s core mission is to align the interests of law schools, law students, legal employers and other industry stakeholders around the knowledge, skills and training needed by 21st century legal professionals. What makes this mission so important is the relentless growth of complexity in a highly regulated, interconnected and globalized world. Without a bigger toolbox, legal services will continue to become unaffordable to a larger proportion of clients.
This pressure is most acute at two ends of the legal spectrum: PeopleLaw, where a growing share of ordinary citizens are forgoing legal services, see Post 037 (data on declining PeopleLaw sector); Post 042 (legal services shrinking portion of CPI basket); and large organizational clients, where legal need is racing ahead of legal budgets, see Post 022 (CLOC focused on this problem); Post 041 (Legaltech focused on this problem); Post 053 (rise of NewLaw focused on this problem); Post 055 (Godfather of legal ops joining Baker McKenzie to solve this problem); Post 069 (Microsoft legal dept focused on this problem).
For both clients and lawyers, the increase in legal complexity is experienced and, therefore, framed as a cost problem. Yet, it’s really a problem of lagging productivity. The increased volume of complexity requires lawyers to find ways to accomplish more per unit of effort. Otherwise, the lawyers are priced out of a job. Cf. Henderson, “The Legal Profession’s ‘Last Mile Problem,'” Law.com, May 26, 2017 (legal industry is hindered by lack of business models that reliably reward efficiency).
IFLP is designed to serve the entire legal profession, as evidenced by this graphic, which organizes IFLP employers by sector. Yes, law firms, law departments, legaltech and NewLaw are supporting IFLP, but nearly 20% of our employers are public service organizations.
In the most practical sense, IFLP is trying to accelerate the development of T-shaped legal professionals. See diagram to right. For lawyers, law school and law practice provide a deep foundation of substantive legal knowledge and skills. The T-shaped legal professional is created by adding a working knowledge of other disciplines, such as data, process/project management, technology, design and business principles.
The legal profession’s future is lawyers and allied professionals working side by side to cost-effectively solve very difficult problems. Cf. Ron Friedmann, “A Multidisciplinary Future to Solve Legal Problems,” Prism Legal (Mar. 2018). T-shaped curricula make these collaborations more effective and fruitful.
Someday the type of curricula offered by IFLP will be standard in law schools throughout the world. Indeed, IFLP’s mission is to enable law schools to do just that. But right now, the state-of-the-art is being pioneered in the field by innovative practitioners and allied professionals. The first step is to locate subject matter experts and organize their knowledge and know-how into subjects that can efficiently taught to others. Fortunately, IFLP has the networks to make this happen. Notice IFLP’s logo — it’s a network.
Below are the modules that are currently covered in our foundational and advanced track bootcamps.
IFLP’s 2019 foundational boot camps will run from May 13-31 in three locations: Chicago, Boulder, Toronto. This training targets rising 2Ls but rising 3Ls and mid-career professionals may also participate. At the end of the bootcamp, law students go on to paid internships with IFLP employers.
The advanced track bootcamp is offered later in the summer to rising 3Ls and mid-career professionals. The advanced track is designed to be preparation for 7-month full-time internships (technically a “field placement”) during the summer and fall semester of a student’s 3L year.
In terms of contact hours and out-of-class study, both the foundational and advanced track bootcamps are designed to fulfill ABA accreditation requirements for a 3-credit law school course. Likewise, the 7-month field placement is designed to earn another 8 credits. See ABA Accreditation Standard 304(d) (defining requirements for field placements). Thus, the full IFLP sequence could total up to 14 academic credit hours, albeit the approval and granting of academic credit is done by participating law schools.
Below is the current timeline for 10-week and 7-month internships:
To my colleagues at other law schools, I am happy to share the course proposals that led to approval of the full IFLP sequence at Indiana Law. In the course catalogue, these courses are referred to as Modern Law Practice I, Modern Law Practice II, and Modern Law Practice Field Placement. Email me.
Evolution, not revolution
In Post 077, Dan Rodriguez distinguished between mission-based and mission-disruptive innovation. IFLP is definitely the former, as the IFLP curricula enables law schools to adapt to massive changes occuring in the legal profession.
On this point, it is noteworthy that the majority of IFLP students are rising 2Ls who complete the foundational bootcamp and go on to 10-week paid internships with IFLP employers. This is creating a paid labor market for law students based on newly acquired skills. The bootcamp leads are Dan Linna in Chicago, Bill Mooz in Boulder, and Monica Goyal in Toronto. These are very accomplished T-shaped lawyers who are also experienced law school teachers. Throughout the bootcamps, each is assisted by over a dozen guest instructors who teach in their area of expertise and/or supervise team-based simulations and exercises. This content is worth 3 academic credits, which significantly multiples the value of the other 85 credits needed to earn a JD degree.
One of the challenges faced by IFLP — albeit a challenge that is sure to fade over time — is a view by some law professors that T-shaped skills are peripheral to the actual practice of law and thus can be safely ignored during law school. This is just not accurate. Below is a list of some of the substantive legal projects performed by IFLP interns over the summer:
- Review and draft various contracts
- Draft software service and licensing agreements, including NDAs, MSAs, SOWs
- Contract management and risk analysis
- Research substantive legal issues and write memoranda
- M&A due diligence
- Intellectual property: copyrights, trademarks
- Deal negotiation
- Litigation document drafting
- Prepare regulatory filings
- Advise on employment law issues
- Attend and summarize meetings with business units
It is also true that IFLP interns work on projects that have a legal operations focus. Below are example projects drawn from past interns:
- Develop expert systems: checklists, compliance automation, document assembly, and workflow templates
- Create budgeting templates
- Use predictive modelling to create machine learning tools that predict case cost,outcomes, and timelines
- Knowledge management: classifying documents, updating clause libraries
- Case data analysis to develop value pricing models
- Process map specific case type, then draft standard pleadings, discovery, litigation documents, and checklists for every stage of this case type
- Simplify and streamline legal department’s advertising approval process
- Research current state of blockchain and legal
- Technology evaluation, selection, implementation, testing, and training
- Analyze outside counsel survey responses and develop objective system for selecting firms
- Trademark library clean up
So much of the innovation occurring in the legal profession these days are activities found on this second list. One reason that law firms struggle to fully embrace these innovations is that their fee-earners are too expensive to take offline so they can be properly trained in the top-of-the-T disciplines. In contrast, IFLP offers a pipeline solution where foundational knowledge is baked into students’ law school education. The attractiveness of this solution is why we ended up with 50+ sophisticated legal employers before we reached our first anniversary.
Placements that benefit interns and employers
In the year 2019, we are all in continuous learner mode. Thus, it is understandable why a lawyer or legal service organization might conclude that they lack the expertise and bandwidth to supervise an IFLP intern. Yet, there’s a solution to this common situation.
In 2018, IFLP founding sponsor Elevate Services worked with Univar—a Fortune 500 company—to pioneer a supervised internship model. Univar was undergoing a major restructuring that consumed all its internal bandwidth. General Counsel Jeff Carr, an innovator who is frequently cited on Legal Evolution, see Posts 008, 052, 053, 056, needed the extra hands and the intern price point. However, his team lacked time for daily supervision. Thus, he hired an IFLP intern supervised by ElevateNext, a law firm affiliated with Elevate.
Jeff recently told a group of fellow Fortune 500 general counsel, “I just can’t say enough about the importance of this initiative as well as the quality of the program and the interns. Our experience was incredibly positive.”
Below is quick overview of the two ways that employers can hire through IFLP:
Because Elevate has deep expertise in data, process, and technology, an IFLP supervised intern can be a very time-efficient and cost-effective way to accomplish an important organizational project while also observing and learning importance new methodologies related to law practice. Additional details here.
7-month field placements
In 2019, approximately 15 of the 75-90 IFLP employer slots are reserved for rising 3Ls who complete the foundational and advanced track bootcamps and go on to 7-month field placements. The value of this model was learned through employer experimentation and feedback.
As noted earlier, IFLP was born out a four-year pilot at Colorado Law called the Tech Lawyer Accelerator (TLA). In its early permutations, the TLA looked very much like the current IFLP foundational bootcamp: 3 weeks of instruction followed by a 10-week paid internships. However, based on feedback from employers, the TLA began experimenting with 7-month internships that extended full-time employment into the 3L fall semester.
One of the 7-month interns was Stephanie Drumm, a 2017 CU Law grad who is currently a second-year associate at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP). Stephanie spent the first four months seconded inside one of the firm’s technology clients and the last three months working onsite at the firm. The combination of tech and client knowledge proved to be invaluable to partners who work with emerging technology clients, particularly start-ups. Thus, despite no expectation of permanent employment, Drumm was added to the 2017 incoming associate class and continues to receive glowing feedback. As Stephanie noted during IFLP’s Wave One launch event in Chicago, she believes the TLA 7-month internship gave her an edge in her career that continues to compound over time. This BCLP experiment went on to win a 2018 FT Innovation “Standout” award in the category of Managing and Development Talent, citing how it was instrumental in the creation of IFLP. See FT North America Innovative Lawyers 2018 at 19.
Other strong advocates for the 7-month field placement were Mark Chandler and Steve Harmon of Cisco. Between 2014 and 2017, the Cisco legal department hired nine 7-month interns from Colorado Law. Seven months of onsite full-time work enabled the interns to learn Cisco’s business and work flow, which in turn improved their performance on more sophisticated and complex projects.
Indeed, one of the reason Bill Mooz and I felt compelled to form the Group of 40 and conduct a needs analysis was Chandler’s and Harmon’s willingness to hire six 7-month interns a year (a $300,000+ salary commitment). A second reason was a change in the ABA accreditation standards that removed the prohibition on for-credit field placements where students could also receive pay. See Karen Sloan, “ABA Approves Pay for Law Student’s For-Credit Externships,” Law.com, Aug. 8, 2016. Although the 7-month field placements were phenomenal learning experiences for students, each student was required to move of heaven and earth to earn sufficient credits to graduate on time. This was a huge supply-side constraint.
Of course, removing a prohibition got us part way there. For-credit/for-pay programs have to be approved by individual law schools. Further, someone has to do the legwork and find employers who see value in this type of program.
Fortunately, my home law school, Indiana Law, was willing to go first. For several years, we have run an excellent program in Washington, DC where students work full-time for a federal agency for eight academic credits. Each fall, an eight to ten student 3L cohort meet weekly or bi-weekly to review and discuss assignments with an Indiana Law instructor. This classroom setting earns students an additional two credits, thus totally ten for the 3L fall semester. Although students were not paid, occasionally one of the agencies would provide a modest housing stipend. My colleagues viewed the IFLP field placement program as substantially the same. The key constraint is that the placement must be with an employer utilizing sophisticated and advanced methods of practice — a description that applies to IFLP employers.
IFLP first class of 7-month interns
In 2018, I served as faculty liaison for three Indiana Law 3L students who were on IFLP field placements. All three completed the foundational boot camp in May and the advanced track in June before heading off to their jobs. Two (Matt Rust and Seth Saler) worked in San Jose in the Cisco legal department. The other (Elmer Thoreson) worked in Chicago at Chapman and Cutler as part of the Chapman Practice Innovations team.
During the fall semester, the four of us met regularly via Webex to discuss the assignments and mine the field placements for insights. While Seth and Matt worked on cybersecurity initiatives, M&A deals, proxy statements, preparation for the Cisco annual meeting, a dashboard for the legal ops group, and various other projects, Elmer was immersed in the application of process improvement and document automation to the intricacies of finance law, which is Chapman’s core area of expertise. Seth and Matt raved about the weekly sessions on competition law that were run for their benefit by Gil Ohana, Cisco’s Senior Director of Antitrust and Competition. Elmer talked about the learning curve on Tender Option Bonds and the UX and UI features that entice lawyers to use technology.
One of the last assignments for the IFLP field placement was a departure memo to direct supervisors that summarized what each student had learned.
In the conclusion to his department memo, Elmer wrote, “Working in the Chapman Practice Innovations group has been a different experience from anywhere I’ve ever worked before. The entire group has valued my input, pushed me to expand my knowledge, and encouraged me to find solutions to problems. My time in the group has changed the way I look at legal problems and has encouraged me to figure out how different disciplines can influence the practice of law. … While the future is not entirely clear, I feel that my time here at CPI has helped me develop my long-term goals. In closing, thank you for the opportunity, the knowledge, and the laughs this semester.”
Likewise, Seth observed, “[During the internship, t]here were opportunities to complete document review, to witness oral arguments, and dive deeply into regulatory frameworks. … I maintained a fairly comprehensive spreadsheet that tallied 30+ projects to which I contributed over the last six months. I was tasked with many of the fundamental tasks in a legal project pipeline: ideating, researching, drafting, and reviewing. … [T]he people I worked with departed from the conceptions I had about an internship. Rather than squeezing as much value and productivity out of me as they could in six months, the people at Cisco were interested in pouring value back into me.” Seth goes on list nearly a dozen people he considered mentors. Matt was equally effusive regarding what he learned and who he learned it from.
The last field placement assignment was co-written by Matt, Seth and Elmer and provides advice to next year’s 7-month interns. Feel free to give it read. See Final 7-Month Intern Group Memo (Dec. 2018).
I hope the idea of a paid field placements in advanced practice settings takes off. This is good for the law students, good for law schools, and good for the legal profession. That’s why I got involved.
This post is an invitation for readers to get involved with IFLP. During 2019, members of the IFLP team would welcome the opportunity to speak to a wide range of industry groups, as we would like to include more law schools and more law students in our 2020 program. To do that, we need more IFLP employers. That is possible when more employers hear the IFLP story and learn what we have to offer.
During 2019, we will also use some of our foundational materials in our law school curricula to start creating high-impact, time-efficient training for mid-career professionals. That is the leg of our business model that will enable us to be self-sustaining.
Finally, IFLP is greatly indebted to our four founding sponsors who supplied the key resources to get to our year one anniversary. Many thanks for your leadership!