Legal technology suits Lisa Colpoys because “there’s always something new and shiny,” says the Chicago attorney who recently left a legal aid career to help build the boot camp for the Institute for the Future of Law Practice.
Set up in January by a team of legal academics and lawyers from both in-house and outside law firms, the nonprofit program trains law students in approaching law practice from a business mindset, and it places them in paid internships with employers, including corporate legal departments and law firms. It offers two types of internships: a traditional 10-week summer program and a seven-month residency that takes up both the summer and the following semester.
Since starting in March, Colpoys’ work has focused on creating curriculum, assembling the internship program and developing relationships. More than 20 employers are currently hosting IFLP interns from five law schools, Colpoys says. And this year the program had 41 students in the basic boot camp in two cities and five in the advanced boot camp.
“If someone is in-house or they are at a law firm and they know nothing about business or how their clients run their businesses, they are not going to be a productive adviser,” says Colpoys, who serves as the group’s program director.
Another program piece is teaching students how to integrate technology—including artificial intelligence and data analysis—into law practice. She’s also interested in eventually offering training programs for midcareer professionals.
“We’re trying to develop a 21st–century workforce lawyer, so even if students are going to practice law at a traditional firm, they will know about this technology, they are fluent in business and can talk to their clients about their businesses,” Colpoys says.
“One of the themes of everything I’ve done is that I like to build new things,” she adds. “I like the idea of changing how things are done when they are not working.” Before joining the institute, she served as executive director of Illinois Legal Aid Online, which offers statewide help for navigating all of Illinois’ county circuit courts and a platform that connects people with appropriate legal services available.
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