April 3, 2018

Victoria Watkins

Whether it’s a solo, small or large legal services enterprise, the delivery of legal services is changing. This spring, we’re launching two new hands-on courses to equip students for 21st century practice.

Small Firm Practice

The first, Using Digital Technology in Law Practice, is a collaborative effort by two Osgoode faculty, Monica Goyal and Paul Maharg, supported by Thomson Reuters. The course builds on a 2017 Learning and Leading series course called Tech Transformation that introduced practice software and technologies within a small firm practice simulation. In the context of managing and settling a client litigation matter, participants of Using Digital Technology in Law Practice will work together using various digital tools provided by Thomson Reuters, including Case Notebook®, Practical Law Canada™, and Case Logistix™. The simulation gives students an opportunity to interview a client, conduct research and negotiate a settlement, while using practice tech tools.

The simulation aspect of the program is being developed by Professor Maharg, drawing on his extensive experience in creating legal education simulations using virtual firms and simulated clients.Simulated clients are based on standardized patients used in medical education and assessment. The sim clients are not simply playing a role; they are trained to provide structured feedback to the student from the client’s perspective. Our hope is that this is the start of building a pool of trained simulated clients that can be used in multiple ways.

In-house, Larger Firm and Legal Tech Practice

The second program is a cross-border collaboration that includes law faculties from University of Indiana, University of Colorado, Northwestern University and York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, as well as numerous firms and in-house legal departments. Under the umbrella of the Institute for the Future of Law Practice, training boot camps and paid internships are being developed with the goal of fostering students who want to practice law and are “operationally aware”, as well as students who are exploring a different career track in the growing field of Legal Operations.

The collaboration is the brainchild of Professor Bill Henderson of University of Indiana and Bill Mooz of the Colorado Tech Lawyer Accelerator, who saw the potential career opportunities for law students that are interested in the business aspects of delivering legal services in corporate law departments, law firms and legal services providers. Henderson also saw that the expertise in the business and technology of legal services delivery did not lie in the legal academy – it was in the field. That being the case, it made more sense for law schools to team up and work with Legal Operations, tech, and business professionals to develop a rigorous and hands-on curriculum that would prepare students for further learning through internships.

In May 2018, Osgoode is participating in the Basic Track Bootcamp (headed by Dan Linna of LegalRnd) on a pilot basis, and has the commitment of a number of Canadian employers to provide internships in areas such as data analytics, process mapping, project management, and pricing.

The great line-up of speakers at the recent Osgoode PD conference, 2nd Annual Disruption in Legal Services Delivery: What Students and New Lawyers Need to Know, hammered home that whether students are headed for small firm practice, big firm or law department practice, (or really, wherever legal services are delivered) lower cost and more efficient service are the order of the day. Both client-centred service design and technology will play a big part in that, and at OsgoodePD, we’re building for that future.

Victoria Watkins HeadshotVICTORIA WATKINS,

Assistant Dean and Executive Director, Osgoode Professional Development