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Last spring, I had the pleasure of speaking at Vanderbilt Law School, mainly covering why the legal profession desperately needs to innovate or face irrelevance. One of the lead organizers was Caitlin (or Cat) Moon and we have remained in touch. Cat is now leading the PoLI Institute, which is part of the Program on Law and Innovation (PoLI) at Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville, TN. The Institute offers a curriculum that leads to a Certificate in Law and Innovation for anyone who takes six or more of the Institute courses within a three-year period and launches in February 2019. And it’s open to more than just lawyers.
Mary Juetten: What problem are you solving?
Cat Moon: The Institute aims to solve a number of challenges for practicing legal professionals. The three primary goals are:
1. Offer highly relevant, practical learning experiences for ALL legal professionals who desire to lead innovation across the industry, providing the skills, tools, and mindsets for making change that creates value. These skills and tools are not generally or consistently taught in law school nor are they addressed in either typical continuing legal education (CLE) curriculum or master’s programs (see goal No.3);
2. Bring together professionals from across the profession to learn and collaborate together — the Institute Immersion courses are open to anyone working in the legal industry, and are not limited solely to practicing lawyers — to create meaningful access to legal services and improve services delivery requires collaboration across the profession; and
3. Provide meaningful learning experiences that define a new offering on the continuum of post-JD education through a Certificate curriculum. The current spectrum of opportunity runs on one end from typical CLE seminars delivered in one-hour increments (of varying quality and substance) all the way to time-consuming and costly master’s programs. Legal professionals deserve learning opportunities that offer much greater depth than a CLE seminar while being more accessible and diverse in content than a master’s program. The Institute’s immersion curriculum and certificate program fill this need.
Juetten: How do you help improve access to justice for consumers?
Moon: Access to justice will happen through the innovation of our legal and justice systems. The professionals within these systems require the skills and tools to make change that will create value for ALL that these systems serve. Through the Immersion courses, the Institute brings these skills and tools to legal professionals who do this important work.
Juetten: What are some of the specific use cases or scenarios you can share on how consumers can leverage your company or solution?
Moon: The Institute’s Immersion courses are designed to deliver very practical skills applicable across the legal industry.
The core curriculum includes the following courses:
- Legal Project Management 2.0
- Human-Centered Design for Law
- Legal Operations 2.0
- Blockchain and Smart Contracts
- Leading Legal Innovation
- Lawyer 2.0 (the human side of innovation)
- Building #NewLaw: Biz Dev 2.0
- Data, Data Everywhere
The initial curriculum focuses on skills, tools, process, and mindsets that can demonstrably improve the delivery of legal services as established through best practices from across industries. For example, core courses such as Legal Project Management 2.0 focus on proven project management tools that can be deployed immediately in any setting. Technology-focused courses such as Blockchain and Smart Contracts deliver a deeper understanding of emerging technology and how it stands to impact legal services delivery as the technology emerges from nascent to more widely deployed.
We expect that Institute cohorts will take what they learn in the immersion courses back into their work and deploy the skills, tools, processes, and mindsets in ways both large and small to make law better for all.
To support post-Immersion application of what they learn, the Institute has created the PoLI Forum, a cloud-based platform for all Institute cohorts that provides a place for ongoing communication, collaboration, and accountability. We observe that deploying change within an organization can be lonely and challenging work and that having a community of supporters engaged in similar missions helps provide momentum to get through the challenges — and celebrate the successes!
Juetten: What are you doing to help the larger legal tech movement boost access to justice?
Moon: Technology will play a critical role in creating access to justice for more people. However, technology in and of itself will not be adequate. Technology is a tool and the right technology to increase access will be the result of intentional efforts of people across the system to come together, identify the right problems, and collaborate to solve them. The Institute helps to bring these people together and gives them the tools, skills, processes, and mindsets to engage meaningfully in the process.
Juetten: Why do you care about access to justice?
Moon: Creating access to justice is a core mission of the Program on Law and Innovation (PoLI) and the PoLI Institute. From the beginning, the Vanderbilt PoLI JD curriculum included a course on building tech applications to increase access to justice — one of the very first continuous course offerings of this kind in a US law school.
We believe that with the privilege of engaging in the legal profession comes the obligation to make the system better for all that it serves.
Juetten: Who are your customers and how do you find them?
Moon: The Institute is open to anyone working in the legal profession. Through the immersion courses, we offer highly interactive and collaborative learning experiences designed to deliver training in key skills and tools particularly relevant to legal innovation.
The curriculum is highly relevant for those serving in a leadership role within a law firm, legal department, or legal services company. And it is equally relevant to the “lone wolf” within these organizations — someone who wants to move change forward and seeks to develop the skills to do so, even in circumstances where organizational support is lacking.
The Institute seeks to bring together people dedicated to making change that creates value across the legal industry, and who wish to engage deeply in this endeavor with others who have the same passion and mission.
Enrollment in any individual Immersion course is open to anyone working in the legal industry. Enrollment in the Certificate program offers a discount on tuition and additional benefits, with more information available here.
Juetten: How did past projects or experience help with this new project?
Moon: The Institute’s curriculum has its roots in the PoLI JD curriculum that Vanderbilt has been offering for four years now. The facilitators of the Immersion courses all have deep, practical experience in their respective areas and bring this value to each course.
Juetten: Who is on your team?
Moon: The core PoLI Institute team is directed by me and I also serve as the Director of Innovation Design at Vanderbilt Law and teach JD courses in law such as a business, blockchain and smart contracts, and human-centered design.
Larry Bridgesmith, long-time Vanderbilt Law professor in legal project management and PoLI Coordinator, co-facilitates and co-develops the Institute’s Immersion courses. And J.B. Ruhl, David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law at Vanderbilt, is Director of PoLI.
For each Immersion course, the Institute brings together practicing legal professionals along with experts from other industries, to share their deep experience and expertise in making change that creates value.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
Moon: The Institute will measure success by helping deploy innovation leaders across the legal industry to improve the delivery of legal services and access to justice.
Juetten: What’s your long-term vision?
Moon: To support innovators across the legal spectrum to do the hard work of making law better for all.
Excited to follow PoLI’s progress! Shifting gears for next time, we talk to an attorney who is creating a free resource for those who represent themselves. #onwards.
January 8, 2019 at 08:56AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs