Jan. 27, 2020

Law students learn how to be great businesspeople as well as great lawyers

Hands-on experience means grads can hit the ground running in their first job

Kyla Sandwith has seen businesses thrive and falter for a variety of reasons throughout her legal career. One reason she saw organizations succeed was a focus on process and project management.

This experience inspired Sandwith to teach law students about Lean Six Sigma practices in her Leadership for Lawyers course, and to build a new opportunity unique to Canadian law schools.

In February, law students enrolled in Sandwith’s course, as well as the faculty’s project management course, will have the opportunity to participate in a Legal Lean Sigma® Process Improvement and Project Management certification course, to gain hands-on experience in process and project management principles.

“Giving students the opportunity to earn this certification will flag to employers that they have an awareness of the principles, while also signaling that they can think outside of the box and bring greater value to clients,” says Sandwith.

The law school is able to offer the certification because of a gift from Ingenio Solutions Ltd., a Calgary company developing software to improve collaboration between lawyers, paralegals and clients.

“I received my Legal Lean Sigma® Yellow Belt and it changed how I organize my practice as a lawyer,” says Jean-Philippe Couture, founder of Ingenio Solutions.

By offering this training at the law school, we can ensure law students begin their careers with an understanding of project management and design thinking and practical experience.

The Legal Lean Sigma® course fits well with the law school’s Calgary Curriculum, which is focused on giving students practical, hands-on learning to prepare them for the future of legal practice.

“Providing this unique opportunity will show the legal community that our students are prepared to think differently about how we serve clients,” says Dr. Ian Holloway, dean of the law school. “We are instilling innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit in students on a continual basis, and preparing them for the profession they will join, not the one my contemporaries and I joined."

“We need to encourage lawyers to continue to innovate,” adds Couture. “Innovation for lawyers needs to come from lawyers, and this program offering is a great start.”

The Legal Lean Sigma Institute, which offers certification, education, and consulting services, is delivering the course. According to CEO and founder Catherine Alman MacDonagh, this is the first such offering by a Canadian academic institution since she created the courses in 2008.

This gift is part of Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High, UCalgary’s transformative fundraising initiative. Fueled by the generosity of UCalgary’s friends and supporters, we are igniting discovery, creativity and innovation to make lasting positive change at the University of Calgary, in our city and beyond. Learn more