Today’s lawyers have experienced first-hand the changing nature of the legal profession, from new ways of delivering legal services to the use of artificial intelligence to e-discovery. As 3L Eric Richard puts it, “Lawyers are being asked to do more these days.” Richmond Law’s new partnership with the Institute for the Future of Legal Practice (IFLP) supports future lawyers in that task by building up a core set of skills – a toolbox of best practices from the worlds of business, project management, and more – that students will be able to use not only to make themselves more marketable, but to help their employers navigate changes in the legal profession.  

IFLP invites member schools to send students to participate in a three-week boot camp aimed at training students to navigate a fast-changing legal world. Students then take those new concepts to the workplace: Participants are placed in a paid 10-week internship at companies and law firms across the country. “As one of the first schools selected to take part in this program, we’re excited to give our students the opportunity to develop these crucial skill sets,” said Jessica Erickson, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty Development. Five students from Richmond Law participated over the summer of 2019.

The skills that the students learn in the program are meant not to replace but rather to supplement a traditional legal education. “Law school will give me a very specialized skill set that employers expect me to have,” said Richard. “What will make me more competitive in the job market, and ultimately more valuable to employers, are skills that I can offer outside of that specialized set.”

Richard spent his summer with DHL Supply Chain, a third-party logistics company with its corporate headquarters just outside of Columbus, Ohio. “I did a little bit of everything,” he explained, partnering with attorneys in the fields of litigation management, labor and employment, real estate, and commercial contracting. “The most prominent concept I brought with me was the project management aspect,” said Richard. “That’s been beneficial to implement here because I have to manage numerous tasks and projects on a daily basis.”

For IFLP participant Tevin Bowens, L’20, the process improvement module had the most impact – and he even led a session on the topic for his placement at Hermes Law Firm in Dallas. IFLP “teaches you life skills,” Bowens. Plus, he added, the program serves as “a real benefit for students who want to be a well-rounded attorney.”

He originally enrolled in the program to seek “insight on the things that matter at law firms but aren’t necessarily taught in school.” And it worked. Bowens found the combination of skills-building bootcamp and practical internship to be “an amazing way to supplement to [a legal education].”

 

Pictured: IFLP participants (left to right) Eric Richard, Rebecca Hutchinson, and Brandy Brown