Re-engineering Legal Access
Top Honors from the ABA
Last January, Suffolk Law’s Accelerator-to-Practice Program received 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 program that enables affordable access to legal services for those of moderate income.
“Providing legal service to individuals who would likely go unrepresented requires re-engineering of inefficient legal processes, requires automation—new approaches that reduce cost per client,” says Associate Dean Ilene Seidman. Courses and training that teach such innovations are at the heart of the Accelerator’s three-year curriculum.
Seidman, Professor Jeffrey Pokorak and Gerald Slater, Associate Dean for Professional & Career Development, brainstormed the Accelerator in 2014, with an eye toward creating a new kind of graduate with a practical edge in the job market—lawyers with the business and technical skills necessary to join or start firms in which a significant part of the revenue stream comes from representing moderate-income clients.
In the third year of the program, Professor William Berman teaches students how to run a law firm from the ground up in the on-campus Accelerator Practice. The students handle marketing, billing, fee setting and client interaction, in addition to learning how to use legal tech and process improvement techniques that increase efficiency.
The Accelerator-to-Practice Program was established in 2014 through the generous donations of Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. JD ’74, HLLD ’99, former Chair of the Suffolk University Board of Trustees; Henry Sullivan JD ’84; and Trustee Jessica Massey JD ’03. Within the last year, the Program has received additional support through significant pledges from Dean’s Cabinet members Eric Parker JD ’86 and Alan Sharaf JD ’87.