In an article in the January issue of PreLaw, “How Suffolk Law is redefining practice-ready”, the magazine’s associate editor calls Suffolk University Law School “one of the most innovative forces in legal education.”
In an extended profile of the school, Tyler Roberts writes, “It may be cliché to tout that your law school produces practice-ready lawyers, but the folks at Suffolk University Law School are redefining what that term means in the 21st century.”
He notes that Suffolk is updating the concept of practice-ready lawyering by “carrying out its mission in pioneering ways,” introducing students to concepts such as design thinking, lean process improvement and by leveraging technology across its curriculum and clinics.
The Law School is nationally recognized as “a leader in experiential learning, offering numerous opportunities for students to enhance their skills in legal writing, trial advocacy and dispute resolution….Similar experiential opportunities abound at law schools across the nation, but what sets Suffolk University apart is its zeal for legal innovation and technology,” Roberts writes.
The Law School is regularly ranked among the nation’s best for legal technology and innovation. Students in Suffolk’s Accelerator Program won the ABA’s top honor for innovations that improve access to legal services for moderate-income people. The school’s Institute on Legal Innovation & Technology (LIT Institute) was named Pro Bono Innovator of the Year by Legaltech News. Suffolk’s penchant for new approaches may have helped it in the US News rankings. It’s one of just 14 law schools in the country with five or more ranked programs in the 2018 edition of the rankings guide.
PreLaw highlights the school’s research and development efforts through the LIT Institute, as well as an academic concentration in legal innovation and technology, the first of its kind in the country. “Through the institute, students have the opportunity to concentrate in legal innovation and technology with courses such as legal design thinking, automated document assembly, and process improvement, all of which are designed to expose students to new ways of delivering legal services,” Roberts writes. “Students are challenged to think creatively about the delivery of legal services so they can reach clients of modest means,” Roberts explains.
The ABA Journal named Professor Gabriel Teninbaum, who directs the LIT Institute and Suffolk’s legal technology and innovation concentration, to its Web 100 list of innovative leaders. The publication called him “perhaps the most tech-savvy law professor in the country.”
The school recently launched a first-of-its-kind online legal technology and innovation certificate program. Industry leaders are teaching the courses, including in-house lawyers from Liberty Mutual and Microsoft.
The Law School’s dean, Andrew Perlman, is a Fastcase 50 legal innovation visionary and currently serves as chair of the ABA’s new Center for Innovation. “Our definition of practice-ready needs to evolve over time,” Perlman told preLaw. “We need to teach our students all of the skills that are traditionally taught in law school but also teach them all of the skills that are relevant for legal professionals today.”
PreLaw mentions two other cutting-edge initiatives, the Legal Innovation and Technology Lab, or LIT Lab, “a clinical program that pairs the legal expertise of students and faculty with the insight of a data scientist.” LIT Lab students will work with local courts and government agencies to identify innovative ways to deliver legal services to the public. Suffolk is also introducing a Clinical Innovation and Technology Fellowship. CIT fellows will participate in existing clinics to improve efficiency and solve access-to-justice issues, Roberts explains. The fellows will work alongside students and faculty, helping find ways to serve clients through process improvement and technology.