By Gerald M. Slater
Associate Dean for Professional & Career Development, Suffolk Law School
In September 2014, six third-year law students started an intensive year of training in Suffolk Law’s new Accelerator Practice. The Accelerator Practice is a fee-generating law practice embedded within the law school.
After all, if you’re going to train law students to be lawyers, why not create a fee-generating law practice within the law school to do so?
The Accelerator Practice has now grown into a three-year curriculum of study and practice designed to prepare graduates to join or start sustainable law practices serving average-income individuals and families. Accelerator students learn the lawyering skills needed to practice law, such as interviewing clients, making effective oral arguments and writing persuasively. But we also teach our students a replicable business model for the creation of sustainable community-based law firms. This means how to select cases, including specific instruction related to fee shifting cases and the award of attorney’s fees. This also means learning law practice economics and how to create business and marketing plans. And we also train our students to create and use of technology that will reduce costs and widen access to justice.
We think this is a model for the future—more prescribed courses of instruction, more business training, more technology, and more real world experiences.
And we’re not done yet. We envision an accelerator to corporate practice that would include successive training in house with corporations and possibly with large multi-practice firms that represent them. We could create another accelerator in technology that would include successive training with a wide range of emerging legal providers utilizing technology to streamline the delivery of legal services.
Long gone is the time when clients were willing to pay to fill the gaps in law graduates preparation for practice. Re-orienting law schools toward the modern market and providing law students with the training they need to competently practice law upon graduation will benefit lawyers, their clients and society.
Read more in Dean Slater’s next blog, here.
Watch Dean Slater explain the Accelerator Practice in this video. For more information on the Accelerator Practice and the three-year Accelerator-to-Practice curriculum, visit www.suffolk.edu/accelerator.