Innovation in legal education is coming from unexpected quarters, including Suffolk Law School, Professor Andrew Perlman writes in this month’s webzine for the ABA Journal.

Perlman writes that modern legal education “no longer gives students the advantage they need in the modern legal marketplace.”

The key piece missing, Perlman writes: helping “students understand how law is actually practiced.”

“A few law schools have responded to the new challenges,” Perlman writes.

Perlman highlights the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation and the new Law Practice Technology and Innovation concentration, both of which he is the director.

Andy Perlman headshotPerlman also points to Suffolk’s new Accelerator-to-Practice Program, a three-year course of study that includes an embedded fee-generating law practice inside the law school. Students in the Accelerator will learn how to create a business, marketing and technology plan for a small practice and get practice training in the school’s in-house firm.

“Students who graduate with these new skills can offer traditional employers a ‘two for one’—traditional legal skills plus training and insights into how to deliver legal services more effectively and efficiently, and in a manner that clients increasingly demand,” he wrote.

Perlman also singles out praise for Michigan State’s Reinvent Law program.

Interestingly, Perlman also posits a theory on why legal innovation is not coming from the most elite schools.

“Necessity breeds invention,” Perlman writes, “and the elite schools (for the most part) don’t have much need. Their graduates are generally doing fine with the traditional mode of legal education.”

In contrast, the vast majority of other law schools have been hit hard by the 40 percent drop in applications in the last five years and whose graduates have had more difficulty finding professional employment.

Thus, he said, it is these typical law schools that “are eager to look for more effective ways to prepare students to compete in the modern legal marketplace.”

For more from Perlman, read the full editorial, visit the LPTI website, or follow him on Twitter @Andrew_Perlman