The Future of Law School Innovation

Tags: Entrepreneurship / Law Innovation

Over the last 5 years, in the fallout of the Great Recession, the legal profession has entered the era of the New Normal. Notably, a series of forces related to technological change, globalization, and the pressure to do more with less (in both corporate America and law firms) has changed permanently the legal services industry. As one article put it, firms are cutting back on hiring “in order to increase efficiency, improve profit margins, and reduce client costs.” Indeed, in its recently noted cutbacks, Weil Gotshal’s leaders remarked that it had initially expected old work to return, but came “around to the view that this is the ‘new normal.'”

The New Normal provides lawyers with an opportunity to rethink&#8212and reimagine&#8212the role of lawyers in our economy and society. To the extent that law firms enjoyed, or still enjoy, the ability to bundle work together, that era is coming to an end, as clients unbundle legal services and tasks. Moreover, in other cases, automation and technology can change the roles of lawyers, both requiring them to oversee processes and use technology more aggressively as well as doing less of the work that is increasingly managed by computers (think: electronic discovery). The upside is not only greater efficiencies for society, but new possibilities for legal craftsmanship.

The emerging craft of lawyering in the New Normal is likely to require lawyers to be both entrepreneurial and fluent with a range of competencies that will enable them to add value for clients. Apropos of the trends noted above, there are emerging opportunities for “legal entrepreneurs” in a range of roles from legal process management to developing technologies to manage legal operations (such as overseeing automated processes) to supporting online dispute resolution processes. In other cases, effective legal training as well as domain specific knowledge (finance, sales, IT, entrepreneurship, human resources, etc.) can form a powerful combination that prepares law school grads for a range of opportunities (business development roles, financial operations roles, HR roles, etc.). In both cases, traditional legal skills alone will not be enough to prepare law students for these roles. But the proper training, which builds on the traditional law school curriculum and goes well beyond it including practical skills, relevant domain knowledge (e.g., accounting), and professional skills (e.g., working in teams), will provide law school students a huge advantage over those with a one-dimensional skill set.

This Conference will bring together national leaders from academia, technology and entrepreneurial companies, and practicing lawyers (both in-house and at law firms) to grapple with the ongoing challenges and opportunities that arise from the New Normal. In so doing, it will facilitate an important dialogue and share emerging best practices among leaders in the New Normal.


Welcome and Introduction
  • Phil Weiser
    Hatfield Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
Fireside Chat
  • Phil Weiser — Moderator
    Hatfield Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
  • George Kembel
    Global Director and Co-Founder, Stanford
Change Management: How Can Law Schools, Law Students, and Employers Develop a New Model
  • Scott Peppet — Moderator
    Professor of Law, University of Colorado
  • Melissa Hart
    Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School
  • William Henderson
    Professor of Law and Val Nolan Faculty Fellow, Indiana University
  • Nora Demleitner
    Dean and Roy L. Steinheimer, Jr. Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law
  • Michael Moffitt
    Dean, University of Oregon School of Law

Teaching Law Students How to Stand Out in the Crowd
  • Paul Ohm — Moderator
    Associate Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
  • Libby Cook
    Founder, President, and Director, Philanthropiece, Inc.
  • Jason Mendelson
    Senior Fellow, Entrepreneurship Initiative, Silicon Flatirons
  • Daniel Katz
    Associate Professor of Law, Michigan State University
  • Tyrone Glover
    Trial Attorney, Office of the Colorado State Public Defender
Ignite Presentation by Legal Entrepreneur
  • Amber Tafoya
    Director - External Affairs, AT&T

Critical Competencies For the New Normal and How Best to Develop Them
  • Helen Norton — Moderator
    Associate Dean, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School
  • Deborah Cantrell
    Director of Clinical Programs, Associate Professor of Law
  • Mark Roellig
    Executive Vice President and General Counsel, MassMutual Life Insurance Company
  • Neil Hamilton
    Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas Law School
  • Paul Lippe
    Chief Executive Officer, Legal OnRamp System
Deans' Panel: The Future of Law School Innovation

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