Sept. 11, 2019

Program equips law students with hands-on learning of new legal tech

Institute for the Future of Law Practice guides students through valuable boot camp and internships

University of Calgary Law Dean Ian Holloway is often heard saying that the mission of the law school is “to prepare students for the profession they are entering, not the one we entered.” The goal of making graduates practice-ready, with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the modern legal marketplace, became more of a reality for five UCalgary students this past summer, in the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP) program.

IFLP is a non-profit organization that brings together members of the legal marketplace to enhance legal training and improve the quality and accessibility of legal solutions. Students attended a three-week boot camp in the spring, where they learned from legal professionals about the business of law, process improvement, artificial intelligence, project management, and computational thinking.

UCalgary Law is one of two law schools in Canada to participate in the IFLP program.

Students at IFLP boot camp

Ellen Forsyth, Daniel Frederiks and Kara Flaman were some of the first participants of the IFLP.

Kara Flaman, a second-year law student, attended the boot camp in Toronto, with a diverse group of JD and graduate students from across North America. 

“The boot camp gave me a good foundation of knowledge and skills in Six Sigma, document automation software, and process improvement,” she explains. “Being able to learn from legal professionals while developing teamwork and practical skills really prepared me for my summer internship.”

Flaman headed back to Calgary after the boot camp for internships with Simplex Legal and Epiq, both legal services providers. She was able to work on a variety of projects, including building an online knowledge management database, process improvement for client and lawyer onboarding, and researching international data protection laws.

Carla Swansburg, Epiq’s vice-president and general manager for Canada, finds great value in partnering with IFLP and hiring interns from the program.

“IFLP students are interested and engaged in understanding the broader context of the changing business of law, and come equipped to find — and leverage — necessary opportunities to deploy changes in how people, process and technology are used to improve the delivery of legal services,” she says. “I have consistently found IFLP interns to be valuable contributors to our work and a true pleasure to work with.” 

“I feel better equipped to collaborate and solve problems on multidisciplinary teams, and better prepared to deliver services to clients in an efficient and understanding way,” says Flaman.

IFLP Launch

UCalgary Law officially launched its IFLP partnership on Aug. 29

Madeleine Natale

Geoff Best, CEO and co-founder of Simplex, recognizes the importance of the IFLP program, not only for the students, but for his own company.

“The IFLP program brings innovation right here to Calgary,” he says. “Having Kara as an intern inspired innovation and action from the team, because we knew we had a bright and eager student ready to hit the ground running. We got more done this summer with Kara in the office than we would have on our own.”

The law school’s Career and Professional Development Office understands the importance of preparing students for the changing legal marketplace, and the value of being involved with programs like IFLP.

“As the legal landscape continues to change and evolve, being able to offer opportunities for students to build current and technical skills is critical. Just because someone is born in a certain generation doesn’t mean they’re born with the ability to create process management efficiencies or pivot tables in Excel,” says senior career adviser Madeleine Natale.

“IFLP offers UCalgary Law students innovative, cutting-edge opportunities unlike they’ve ever had before. They can transfer what they learn in the boot camp and internships to a myriad of different types of subsequent legal employment, whether that be with a firm, government, or NGO. We’re looking forward to growing the program and being able to offer our students, and the legal community, more newly created positions in 2020.”