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April 17, 2014

Colorado innov conference: Discussion of design thinking; relevance to legal education

by Dan Rodriguez

Entrepreneurship & innovation is a mindset.  Doesn’t pertain to private sector versus public sector.

If we’re not careful, innovation becomes associated with young, hungry tech entrepreneur.  But this doesn’t capture.   Weiser:  “young, African American woman in the local public defenders office” can be an innovator, an entrepreneur.

Difficulty is law students, training to be lawyers, don’t view their professional identity, as students and would-be lawyers, as entrepreneurs.

Gembel:  challenge is to get students to unlearn all the bad habits they learned in elementary school.   In addition to, founders are working on creating a K-12 lab to get at the kids early.  “How do you educate legal thinkers starting in grade school?”

Weiser:  challenge of “dualistic thinking.”  “It’s really important to get good grades, nothing else matters” or “grades don’t matter, it is important how I develop my personal narrative.”  Neither captures it.  How do you create a narrative of the whole person and professional so that you can identify the mindset of an emerging entrepreneur.

Individuals should discover their own narrative based on their own experiences.  Don’t force the law student into the box of “LAWYER.”  How to you give confidence to form their own narrative.

With regard to developing “competencies,” how has the reverse engineered the “competencies” in order to get the students to the right level.  Gimbel:  capacity is better way to frame it than competency, as competency views an “end” rather than an iterative, ongoing process.

Importance of resilience.  Weiser: lawyers identify this quality as essential.  Gimbel:  “How do you deal with failure” is not quite the right way to capture it.  Should reframe the tackling of problem that doesn’t yield good result as potentially successful in enabling students to make better progress.  Other element of resilience is how students respond to crashing.  How does student get him/herself back up?

Q:  what is the future of legal education?  Weiser:  Bright, for those willing to experiment; figure out where are these successful alums and how did their get there?  Answers are out there; we have just been looking at the wrong problems.  Gimbel:  future will depend on its ability to experiment.  Don’t look at alums; look at the current and prospective students.

Q:  our job is prepare our students from the profession that is here now.  Usually that means Biglaw.  challenge is how to enable students to succeed for profession that will emerge in 10-20 years, even though we want to be sure that they get jobs today.

Weiser:  need to define success in law placement broadly and imaginatively.

Gimbel:  transformation comes from outside in first, and then inside out.

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