The field of law is a challenging, competitive professional environment. With the rapid evolution of technology comes unprecedented challenges, such as issues of intellectual property, the automation of legal work and the possible implementation of Artificial Intelligence in decision-making.
The field is shifting and future law graduates must be ready to adapt to the change. Those studying to become lawyers in 2019 will need to be flexible, and able to adapt to fast-changing and diverse workplaces.
To get ahead during your studies, choosing a program where you will not only study law, but also gain practical work experience is crucial. Having a legal internship or clinical experience is a key element to landing your first legal position after law school.
Practical experience will give you valuable insight into the workplace, increasing your confidence and opening an array of potential opportunities after you graduate. You will gain invaluable skills, such as networking, communication and negotiation, and see your substantive legal knowledge used in real-life practice.
One school in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, has made experiential learning and legal technology a key component of its curriculum. Suffolk University Law School is nationally known as a leader in both of these areas. By focusing on practical skills and what the future of law will look like, Suffolk provides students new ways to utilize technology to become more efficient lawyers, who better serve their clients. Suffolk Law School not only ranks highly for Legal Innovation and Technology, but across the board: it’s the only school in the US to have four experiential skills specialties in the Top 20 for 3 consecutive years 2017-2019 (Legal Writing, Trial Advocacy, Clinical Programs and Dispute Resolution).
Plus, it’s one of only 15 law schools in the US with five or more ranked programs (US News 2019), sitting alongside the likes of Stanford and UC Berkeley.
One student who made the most of Suffolk’s experiential programs was Juliana Coelho Zappi, who graduated with an LLM in Global Law and Technology in 2018. During her studies, Zappi took part in two of these programs.
The first was a summer internship at a US Army base in Germany, where she worked with a team of military lawyers, assisting soldiers and their families with immigration issues.
She also worked closely with a German legal team, where she had the opportunity to discuss current international law in great depth. This experience allowed for both intellectual and cultural growth as she learned about different perspectives – a factor that’s vital to a successful global law practice.
Zappi also did pro bono work through one of Suffolk Law’s nationally ranked clinics, where she helped a tribe from her home country of Brazil protect their sacred land. She was part of a team that was responsible for taking the tribe’s complaints to a branch of the United Nations, utilizing her language skills, professional experience, and legal knowledge gained from the LL.M. to make a real difference in the world.
“The LL.M. in Global Law and Technology really interested me due to its unique structure, which allows you to specialize in up-and-coming areas of the law, such as Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law, Biotechnology and Health Law, and International Law and Business,” she says.
With a wide array of experiential learning opportunities, it’s no surprise that Suffolk was voted Number 1 in Legal Technology in this article about Best Schools for Legal Technology in the National Jurist.
National Jurist praises Suffolk’s concentration in Legal Innovation and Technology, which
gives students the chance to learn how to build expert systems, automate documents and consider new business models for legal work.
Furthermore, the Law School offers cutting-edge electives to ensure students are ahead of the curve in the changing legal landscape; for example, “Design Thinking for Lawyers and Business Professionals”, and “Coding the Law: An Introduction to the Technology of Practice.”
As a recognized leader in providing the skills needed to be successful lawyers of tomorrow, the LL.M. program provides students ways to take advantage of Suffolk Law’s strengths, while also providing them with the support that they need. Current LL.M. student, Tanuja Walsh, believes she would not have been able to achieve her goals without the help of the assistant dean of graduate law programs, Bridgett Sandusky, who was there to help her every step of the way. “At Suffolk Law, our primary focus is to provide a solid legal education to each student, giving them access to customized degrees and sophisticated electives, while putting their legal knowledge to practice through internships and clinical programs,” says Sandusky.
“I had a fantastic experience with all the professors who taught me. They are professional and dedicated to every student. They really demonstrate expert knowledge and passion for what they do. I was inspired by all of them and very grateful for all their help,” says Tanuja.
In taking advantage of experiential learning opportunities, Walsh worked at Suffolk’s Human Rights and Indigenous People Legal Clinic in a case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, applying knowledge acquired in a human rights survey course at Suffolk Law School and legal knowledge from her native country of Peru.
This experience included interaction with advocates involved in the case and located in Guatemala. She was meeting with the executive directors of one of the petitioners through video calls, using her language skills in both Spanish and English. The development of skills in networking and communication will prepare her well to practice in a global world.
Both Zappi and Walsh feel their experiential learning programs through Suffolk Law have opened doors to career pathways they had not previously considered, giving them the confidence and experience required to not only follow these pathways, but to excel.
With its excellent East Coast location, right in the heart of downtown Boston – a center for finance and innovation – Suffolk University Law School is a cosmopolitan learning hub. Gaining experiences such as those available at Suffolk will deepen your knowledge and broaden your skills, setting you up for a productive and rewarding career in law.