Thursday, August 21, 2014
Earlier this month, the New York Times ran a story (here and here) describing how several law schools are attempting to "reinvent" the upper level curriculum to bolster student training and job opportunities. In particular, the story mentions several speciality programs aimed at teaching law students either how to be more entrepreneurial as lawyers or how to better understand the business needs of the clients they hope to serve as a means of enhancing their attractiveness to those potential employers.
One of the programs mentioned is called the "Tech Law Accelerator" project that kicked off this summer at the U. Colorado School of Law. It is designed as a "bootcamp" to help students better understand the specific legal needs of technology companies as a way of making participants more marketable job candidates upon graduation. Colorado's program involves both intensive classroom instruction followed by a summer placement with a technology company that lets students learn firsthand about the legal needs of these employers.
The National Law Journal has a good article providing more detail about the CU program. As Dean Phil Weiser told the NLJ, the "accelerator" model can be adapted to law school partnerships with other industries such as real estate or natural resources. Dean Weiser said that CU is "committed to sharing this model" with other interested schools and, indeed, received a $100k grant to help it do so. Here's an excerpt:
Colorado Law trains them in tech business basics
University of Colorado School of Law student Kate Armstrong spent her 10-week summer internship at technology consulting firm Ciber Inc., sitting in on business deals, observing the general counsel's interaction with other executives, researching overseas laws and writing draft agreements.
"I had been thinking that going in-house might be right for me, but I really wasn't sure," the third-year student said recently. "I'm a lot more confident in that direction now, and I've made some valuable connections."
Armstrong is one of 15 inaugural students in Colorado Law's Tech Lawyer Accelerator, designed to teach business skills and technology industry fundamentals before the students begin legal internships at technology firms.
Dean Philip Weiser had found that teaching students how to think like lawyers and develop practical legal skills wasn't enough. They also needed subject-matter expertise and basic business skills including teamwork and client interaction to be attractive to legal employers.
Under guidance by Bill Mooz, a former in-house lawyer at Sun Microsystems Inc. and now a scholar-in-residence at the law school, the Colorado program combines a four-week, on-campus "boot camp" with 10-week internships at technology firms that pay a minimum of $20 an hour.
"We're committed to sharing this model," Weiser said. "We think that this is the future of legal education, and we want to help other institutions figure out how to make it work for them." There's no reason, he said, the idea wouldn't work for other areas of the law such as real estate or natural resources.
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Continue reading the NLJ story here.