Marco Bellissimo, Windsor Law, JD, 2022
For two weeks in May 2020, 48 students from law schools across Canada and the United States virtually gathered to participate in a bootcamp hosted by the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP). I, as one those students, was eager to learn about a lawyer’s responsibilities in 2020. What would be expected of me when I sat down at my desk on my first day of work?
IFLP showed me that 21st-century lawyers should expect to operate outside ‘traditional’ legal work because that work may no longer require a ‘traditional’ legal education. For example, non-disclosure agreements are readily available online and without cost. Clients do not need a lawyer to help them input data into a standardized form.
Lawyers should expect to be operational leaders with skills that compliment traditional legal knowledge. IFLP emphasizes design thinking, data analytics, technology, process/project management, and business tools as fundamental proficiencies for the modern lawyer. Expertise in these areas allows lawyers to solve high-level problems that other employees may not be able to without an underlying knowledge of the law along with access to legal resources.
Prior to IFLP, I did not know much about these proficiencies. IFLP helped me learn more about them through seminars, activities, networking events, and shark-tank panels hosted by distinguished leaders in the legal field and beyond. Topics ranged from using the latest in legal software to teamwork in a virtual world.
My favorite part of the bootcamp were the shark-tank panels. Every three days, student teams were tasked with preparing a presentation on how to overcome a hypothetical problem. We had to sort and analyze data, prepare workflows, craft knowledge management systems, and automate forms. I never thought a lawyer would need to be an Excel and Visio expert. I now realize that proficiency in these programs means less outsourcing for firms and faster results for clients.
At the end of the bootcamp, students begin their paid summer internship at a firm or corporation. These internships provide students with an opportunity to apply their new skills and gain first-hand experience in a modern workplace. Although the internship ends in August, students have been asked to return for the next summer following their second year of law school.
I highly recommend this bootcamp to any law student with questions about their place in 21st-century law practice. Not only will IFLP answer your questions, it will also help you make connections with distinguished lawyers and business owners who will guide you throughout your career.
I would be remiss if I did not thank Professor Sheldon and Anna Maria DeCia-Gualtieri for their hard work in helping me through IFLP’s application and internship process. Their commitment to my success, especially during these uncertain times, allowed me to participate this incredible bootcamp. It was an honor to represent UWindsor during their first year at IFLP. Thank you!
For questions about the application process, please visit https://www.futurelawpractice.org.