June 2019 |
Tom Davidson, CLOC Project Manager and Graduating Law Student
As both a law student and a Project Manager with CLOC, I’ve gained a unique perspective on law school and the rise of legal operations. I’ve been a Project Manager with CLOC for three years, where I’ve helped grow our organization from 40 members to over 2,300 members and have participated in some groundbreaking changes in legal operations. While with CLOC, I’ve also been a law student at Stanford where I’ll be graduating this June.
The last three years have been incredibly valuable not only for introducing me to leaders in the legal industry, but also teaching me about the intersection between legal education and the evolving legal practice. When I reflect on what I’ve learned in law school, I think law schools are great at teaching students black letter law (e.g. contracts, torts, and civil procedure). Increasingly, law schools provide students meaningful clinical and pro bono opportunities and some sense of what it’s like to have real clients. Law school also provides an important sense of community within the legal profession and pushes students outside of their comfort zone, which is critical to our long-term success.
However, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this, that at their core, law schools don’t teach students about the business of law or about our legal ecosystem – what we represent in the CLOC community. We aren’t taught about the synergies between law firms and legal technology providers, or the rise of alternative legal service providers and the evolving role of in house counsel. Classes in people management, business management, or the business of running a law firm aren’t required or even sometimes provided (and many students don’t take advantage of the limited offerings).
The truth is, law school can feel detached from the reality of practicing law. What I’ve discovered during my time with CLOC, is the way that lawyers work, the legal services that are available to clients, and how clients pay for those legal services, are all changing. That’s today’s reality. And, I think that our law school curriculum, at its core, should reflect those changes.
Certainly some of this comes from experience, but I also think that it’s on the legal ops change makers, practitioners of the law, and students of the law to challenge our conventional understanding of how the law is taught and how our legal education is provided. Naturally, law schools and business schools should be partners in this endeavor, which is why CLOC is so important. At CLOC we’re all about bringing everyone into the conversation – from academia to the AM Law 100.
For the last four years, CLOC has supported law students and the focus on legal ops training through its scholarship program. Much like CLOC itself, the scholarship program keeps expanding. In May 2019, ten (10) scholarship recipients from a variety of backgrounds across the United States were selected to receive CLOC’s 2019/2020 scholarship. From my experience with CLOC and involvement in the Scholarship Program, I know that those of us who are prepared with the necessary training in the technological and operational side of legal practice are in a much better position to meet and exceed our client’s expectations. Understanding how to practice is just as important as understanding the law itself.
The legal industry has been slow to adopt technology, but that’s changing quickly and CLOC is a testament to that change. Every day, new technology is altering the way that attorneys handle day-to-day operations and anymore, technology and operations skills are not just a “nice to have,” they’re critical for law school graduates to learn and exercise in practice. I’m excited to be a part of the changes that the legal industry is experiencing and I can’t wait to see what comes next!
About the CLOC Scholarship Program
Scholarship recipients from the 2019/2020 year were invited to attend the 2019 Vegas Institute in May 2019. View the impressive selection committee and equally impressive winners of the CLOC 2019 Scholarships. Learn more and apply for a CLOC Scholarship today.
About the authors
CLOC Project Manager and Graduating Law Student