Paul L. Caron

Monday, November 8, 2021

Testy & Henderson: LSAC Acquisition Of IFLP Explained

Kellye Testy (LSAC) & Bill Henderson (Indiana), LSAC Acquisition of IFLP Explained:

IFLP LSACLast week, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) acquired the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP).  From far away, many lawyers, law professors, and law students are bound to ask, “Why is the maker of the LSAT, which has been part of the legal education landscape for 70+ years, acquiring a fledging nonprofit start-up focused future of law practice?”

The answer is that LSAC and IFLP saw a clear pathway to benefit future generations of legal professionals in their work with clients and broader society.  Although some readers may question such a lofty purpose, we believe that as a self-regulated legal profession, it is our obligation to foster and maintain a legal system that works for all citizens and upholds the rule of law.  Only then is lasting prosperity possible, both for lawyers and broader society, and the promise of equal justice more within reach.

Our organizations have been in dialogue since the summer of 2018, when Bill Henderson reached out to Kellye Testy to discuss a possible strategic alliance. From the very beginning, we both recognized the challenges spanning our profession including the large and widening access-to-justice gap, the substantial investment of attending law school, the desire of law schools to develop new programs and expand existing ones while faced with real budget and capacity pressures, and sophisticated corporate legal departments struggling to manage the relentless complexity of running a global business.

IFLP focuses on building skills like legal operations, business, design, and data analytics to expand the value that legal professionals can bring to their employers. The huge academic and career successes of the students in its programs was plenty motivation to seek more reach and scale. As LSAC sought to do even more to serve its long-standing mission of encouraging and supporting diverse, talented individuals to study law, it broadened its focus to a more holistic view of the prelaw to practice pipeline. After all, what most attracts a candidate to study law is having rewarding and diverse pathways to pursue with their educations.

Reviewing these factors, the synergy with IFLP’s mission became crystal clear: together, we could create better, and more cost-effective solutions along the entire legal education journey to serve the needs of students, schools, employers and, ultimately, clients.  Moreover, as the non-profit hub for law schools and law candidates, LSAC is experienced at working alongside its member schools to augment their considerable strength for the collective good. ...

Does anyone seriously believe that patients are better served when MD’s are taking vital signs, drawing blood, operating an MRI machine?  That’s not to say that the medical profession is ideal; but we should recognize that it is often easier for people to get a flu shot than to get help with an eviction notice.  By delegating more common and routine tasks to well-trained but less expensive healthcare workers, healthcare consumers are able to afford more healthcare.  The same ought to be true with law.

Clearly, law schools have a critical role to play in the future of the legal profession, including continued curricular innovation. That is a tall order, however, given the enormously wide range of preparation that law students have upon entry and the equally wide range of careers they seek upon graduation. ... A more constructive and realistic approach is to supplement the strong education the law schools provide by creating useful resources that enable low-cost self-help by students, faculty, and law school administrators. ... 

Indeed, this directly connects to one of the core insights we learned at IFLP — that the fundamentals of scalable legal products and services can be, and often should be, taught by using a scalable medium, such as asynchronous learning modules.  This approach drops the per-unit cost of education to a very affordable level and enables students to self-pace according to their own schedule. It also makes it possible for law schools to cost-effectively integrate these offerings into the curriculum, as happened this fall for all incoming 1L students at Southern University Law Center. ...

In the decades to come, we believe that the legal profession is destined to evolve into a multidisciplinary field that includes substantive law and the skills and know-how to scale legal problem-solving.

This transition will occur faster, and ultimately be more successful, if the fundamentals are made available to those with the most gain — those at the very beginning of their working careers.  LSAC will offer IFLP’s Modern Law Practice program — a 10-hour, 5-module online asynchronous course that covers the fundamentals of data, process, design, technology, and business —through its Law Hub platform, which is the main portal for those considering a career in law. ...

To speed up the transition, the profession has to start somewhere.  We believe that the combination of LSAC and IFLP is an early and important step in the right direction.

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