By Gerald M. Slater
Assistant Dean for Professional & Career Development, Suffolk Law School
It’s time to start training law students to be lawyers. Law students have been trained to think like lawyers, but not trained to do what lawyers do.
Last week, I wrote in this blog post about our new new Accelerator Practice, a fee-generating law firm staffed by six law students imbedded within the law school, which I discussed in my earlier blog post.
But our in-school law firm is just the beginning. We’ve created it as the capstone of a three-year specialized track of instruction called the Accelerator-to-Practice Program. This program includes:
- expanded professional development and skills curriculum
- technological training
- first summer assignment to a solo or small firm
- second summer and third year employment in the Accelerator Practice
- career development and practice supports.
We think it’s time to re-engineer legal education. We need to expand the law school curriculum to include practical training in professional communication and development of professional networks. Law students should learn business competencies such as project management, marketing, and financial literacy, including the ability to predictively price legal services and calculate return on investment.
Our approach has attracted a number of new instructors with real world experience. These include practicing lawyers and their clients, career service professionals, legal practice experts and legal technologists—as well as veteran law school professors who have been thinking about how to improve legal education for future generations.
And finally, we have to give students opportunities to practice their skills in internships and through the clinical insourcing of legal work.
So, at the end of school, we won’t just have great law students, we’ll have produced great lawyers.
For more information on the Accelerator-to-Practice Program, visit www.suffolk.edu/accelerator.