Are law schools producing truly practice-ready graduates? It’s a question that’s being asked more often; and with flagging job placement rates for law school graduates, it’s an important dialogue.
While the actual practice of law is of the utmost importance, skills focused on marketing, business development, and leveraging existing technologies to assist with the day-to-day management of a law practice aren’t being included in law school curricula, carrying negative consequences for tomorrow’s lawyers.
Enter Clio’s Academic Access Program: since 2010, Clio has partnered with over 120 law schools, legal clinics and paralegal programs across North America, donating more than $5.5M dollars annually in free services to bridge the gap between academic and practical legal education. By giving law school students completely free, hands-on experience with the leading cloud-based practice management solution, we’re helping provide at least a piece of the skill set required to become a fully employment-ready law graduate.
“Using Clio in an educational environment was invaluable for my professional development,” says Melanie Arellano, a paralegal who was able to find job placement after using Clio as part of her education at Pike’s Peak Community College. “Previously, the school was using Excel spreadsheets and Word documents for time tracking and billing; using Clio was much more efficient and allowed us to gain hands-on experience using a real world cloud-based solution.”
Melanie was so taken with Clio’s convenient unified solution combining time tracking, billing, calendaring, and document and contact management, she successfully petitioned to have it implemented at the firm, she was hired at, where they’ve been happy Clio customers for a year. “The support at Clio is second to none that I’ve encountered, and they truly listen to their customers — it’s great to see them implementing user-based suggestions and making the product better for everyone.”
We’re seeing great headway in the program, as Clio Academic Access partners now include five of the top ten and nine of the top 20 law school clinics in the US. Over 10,000 students, administrators and educators have taken advantage of free, unfettered access to the Clio practice management solution, gaining a valuable tool in their technology toolkit. Whether working on class assignments or cases, students at law schools and legal clinics using Clio can access information securely from any device with an Internet connection, collaborate with peers and opposing counsel, and manage matters from intake to invoicing, as if in a private practice.
Clinic administrators have clear oversight into the actions and activities of their students through Clio’s Firm Feed and reporting tools. “At the UW Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, we don’t have permanent desks or phones, let alone paper files, a file cabinet, or even paper clips — we need technology to help keep us productive. Students in the Clinic use laptops, cell phones, and tablets, to communicate and work with clients.
Clio has been a perfect solution allowing students (and supervisors) the ability to work in the cloud with clients from Madison to Uganda,” says Jeff Glazer, Supervising Attorney at the University of Wisconsin Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic. “We use Clio Connect to provide clients ongoing, secure access to their files long after our work for them are over. Clio has allowed us to train students in the day-to-day activities required by the law firms where they will eventually work, and has the necessary functionality to operate our Clinic exactly like any other law firm, providing that necessary parallel to the real world.
Lastly, but certainly not least, through the Clio Academic Access Program we are able to work within our budget to provide a full range of corporate legal services to nascent entrepreneurs. Much like any law school clinic, our budget, such that it is, is vitally important to continue to provide operational support for the work that we do. Because of the Clio Academic Access Program we can provide real-world technology and processes that are vital to the student experience at a price that is friendly to our budget ($0.00).”
In addition to giving law students an opportunity to gain valuable hands-on technical experience, the Clio Academic Access Program is also helping to foster access to justice for those who need it most. By giving law clinics completely free access to Clio, they’re able to service clients who could not normally afford legal representation. We’re happy to provide this service to ensure that clinics can represent those who would otherwise be unable to retain the services of a lawyer. Clio’s Academic Access Program is doing their part to give law students the skills they need to thrive once they hit the pavement, and school administrators the oversight they need to manage their clinics successfully.