Through its acquisition of the Institute for the Future of Law Practice in late 2020, the Law School Admission Council is continuing to branch out from its traditional LSAT test administration role and offer more legal skills programming at its online platform LawHub. The new curriculum coming from IFLP is touted as helping to better prepare law students and lawyers for the demands of today’s marketplace.
IFLP was launched by William Henderson, professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, in 2018. The nonprofit was focused on increasing legal professionals’ value by teaching skills like business, design and data analytics. Kevin Colangelo, senior director of LSAC’s LawHub, explained to the Indiana Lawyer why the programming benefits legal professionals.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Indiana Lawyer: What is gained through this acquisition?
Kevin Colangelo: Right now, we’ve got our law practice certification program that hundreds of students have taken around the world, and students range from people who are still in undergrad all the way to several general counsels of Global 500 companies. It’s a program that is applicable to anyone wherever they are in the legal profession. Being part of LSAC allows us to expand that both in terms of our reach and also in terms of the course and the commodity-related content we can deliver.
What is IFLP teaching that today’s legal professionals need to know?
What the market has been telling us for a very long time is law schools, they do a really good job of helping people understand the law. What has been sorely lacking are the types of skills that, I think, most of the rest of the business know.
How will learning business skills help attorneys?
If you’re the lawyer in the room of 10 people, you may have people from the business side, or maybe there’s people from marketing or people in manufacturing, they speak a different language. So the lawyers get there and kind of get marginalized because they’re only there to draft a contract.
What does the curriculum teach?
All of the skills, the knowledge, skills and abilities that we put into our program address those types of deficiencies in what we call the modern business environment. It’s just core basic skills. We’re not trying to create experts. We’re just trying to give people core foundational skills. It’s really these types of skills that just help them operate in the modern business environment.
What do lawyers lose if they do not have these skills?
Firms of all sizes have looked and said, “We have to be better business people, we have to be better at not just how we go and get our clients but how we work with our clients so that they want to use us again.” I like to shortness that to effectiveness, but I obviously think it’s the bigger issue of, it’s just a different marketplace.
IFLP say students are the best fit for the program but people in law school already have a great deal to do. Is there a danger of cognitively overloading the students?
Students are already in the learning mode in law school. And in reality, and we hope this is the case, the way we’ve structured this learning is about as efficient as possible in terms of, we’re not boiling the ocean. You’ve got five courses, each course is between an hour and a half, two hours of videos. We’ve got quizzes. You can go back and watch (the videos) again. You can take your quizzes, you pass your quizzes, you pass your exams and you get certification. That certification has currency. The currency is only getting more valuable.•