My inspiring story this week is about a Florida law school that is doing something AWESOME (and some may say shocking) - it is teaching students how to practice law. Starting this fall, Florida Coastal School of Law will be offering what it calls a JD Plus: "a new curriculum that focuses on providing a customized legal education for each student and offering more opportunities for experiential learning".
The new curriculum includes things like law firm simulation exercises and experiential learning opportunities for students in the legal community.
A couple of AWESOME notes from President Denis Stone on the new curriculum: "We are dedicated to developing individuals into lawyers, not law students..." And.... "We believe this curriculum reflects Coastal Law’s interest and continuous investment in preparing students to immediately succeed in the current legal marketplace.”
Coastal Law has also created The Center for Law Practice Technology (CLPT), offering certificates in legal technology and law practice management! The centre will operate as a focused unit within the law school and will be co-directed by Richard Granat and Stephanie Kimbro, two U.S. leaders in legal technology and innovation.
The CLPT offers a program that focuses on preparing students to thrive in these changing times. Here are a few examples how...
The certificate program will teach students how to create a virtual law firm, automate legal documents, and create a brand and market using social media!
The program will also prepare graduates to work in companies that offer "technology solutions for legal services". A couple examples would be working in legal process outsourcing companies (such as Pangea3), companies offering electronic discovery or automated document assembly, and legal software companies.
It will also educate students about the ethical requirements for online delivery of legal services.
Now I'm not discounting the ability of most recent law graduates to spout case names and quote long passages of Lord Denning's judgments from memory... but imagine graduating law school feeling like you have the tools to actually practice law. Imagine knowing you have the training and confidence necessary to start up, run, and market your own legal practice should that be the path you choose!
Sounds like an amazing program, and I say best wishes to those about to begin their legal education out in Florida. You may just become some of the next generation's leaders in law practice management and technology!
For more examples of U.S. law school offering innovative approaches to legal education, check out this article by Richard Granat.
Change is happening all around - even in the long-established institutions within our profession. Let's be inspired to take a look at our lives and the things over which we have control and which we can influence, and take a step towards creating a life and a profession that we LOVE!