Young Lawyers Division

JurisdictionUtah,United States
CitationVol. 33 No. 4 Pg. 57
Pages57
Publication year2020
Young Lawyers Division
Vol. 33 No. 4 Pg. 57
Utah Bar Journal
August, 2020

July, 2020

How Silicon Slopes is Innovating Legal Education

By Adam B. Balinski

You probably remember the first time you were cold-called in law school. For me, it happened on the second day of contracts class.

I had a brand-new law professor who took too many notes from Professor Kingsfield in The Paper Chase. When he called my name, I immediately felt a mix of excitement and terror. I had prepared – or so I thought. But what followed was more than half an hour of one-on-one grilling about cases discussing policy limitations on surrogacy agreements. I walked out feeling like charred hamburger.

Perhaps some aspects of legal education, like the Socratic method, will never change. Perhaps some aspects never should. But fifty years from now, if legal education is exactly the same, then the system will have done the rising generation of lawyers a tremendous disservice. Here in Utah, the phrase “innovative legal education” is no longer an oxymoron.

As director of external relations at BYU Law School and as the founder of a local legal education company, I have seen first-hand how Silicon Slopes is innovating legal education. I graduated from law school only a few years ago, but I have already seen dramatic changes in the way legal education is administered in Utah (even before COVID-19 came and further shook things up). Here is a breakdown of some of the key innovations, institution by institution.

BYU Law

Since its inception in 1973, the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU has helped students become community leaders through meaningful learning opportunities. Here is a sampling of some of BYU Law’s recent innovations.

Academies

When 1L BYU students have just wrapped up spring finals, exhausted and with the law review write-on competition looming, a little break is welcome. But now those students have the opportunity to hop on a plane and go to New York to attend a one-week boot camp in mergers and acquisitions at Kirkland & Ellis.

This last year, students did just that and participated in BYU Law’s inaugural Deals Academy. And despite the sacrificed down time after finals, they loved the opportunity.

Academies offer law students a week-long, hard-core, sneak peek at what it means to pursue a particular path in the law. So far, the school has offered a Trial Academy and Deals Academy. In addition to those, BYU Law is also preparing to offer a Start-Up...

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