Suffolk University Law School’s Accelerator to Practice Program has been selected as this year’s recipient of the American Bar Association’s top honor for innovators in the provision of legal services to average income Americans.
Each year, the ABA’s Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access recognizes one exemplary and replicable program or project that enables affordable access to legal services for those of moderate income who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford the traditional costs of legal services.
The ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services chose the Accelerator to Practice Program for recognition because of its mission to prepare graduates to join or start sustainable law practices serving average income individuals and families.
The Accelerator to Practice Program is the nation’s first three-year comprehensive course of study that includes coursework in the use of legal technology, law practice management and alternative models for the delivery of legal services, combined with targeted experiential training in for-profit small firm practices and in a specially-created law firm imbedded within the Law School.
The program functions through a unique collaboration of law school faculty, administrators, career professionals and outside practitioners and was the brainchild of Professor Jeffrey Pokorak, Vice Provost for Faculty & Curriculum, Professor Ilene Seidman, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Gerald Slater, Associate Dean for Professional & Career Development.
A letter acknowledging the award from the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services said, “The Law School has worked extremely hard on this program and is now beginning to see the results, not only with this type of recognition, but more importantly with the advancement of students who are now entering practice with the unique skill set that has resulted from your innovations. We hope to encourage other schools to make similar advances by pointing to your creative work.”
“We’re training students who want to make a living helping people to access the large market of average income Americans in need of affordable legal services,” says Associate Dean for Professional & Career Development Gerald Slater.
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Ilene Seidman says the program’s curriculum, which includes classroom and hands-on practical training in both the business and practice of law, produces graduates with a more comprehensive and practical skill set.
Both point to Suffolk Law’s expanded curriculum in law technology and innovation and the business and legal training offered in the Program’s Accelerator Practice, managed by Professor William Berman, as the substance of the program’s initial success.
Now in its second year, the program is expanding to include more students. Its first graduates are now entering small firm practice or applying their legal tech training for firms and legal tech providers. Students discuss their experience in the Law School’s alumni magazine.
Implementation of the Accelerator to Practice Program was made possible by the generous donations of founding donor Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. JD’74, HLLD’99, Chair of the Suffolk University Board of Trustees; Henry Sullivan JD’84; and Trustee Jessica Massey JD’03.