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New Law School center aims to prepare students for industry

Source: Northwestern Law/School of Law

James Lupo

Rishika Dugyala, Reporter

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With the launch of its new legal education center this quarter, Northwestern aims to lead the nation in preparing students for the professional world.

The Center for Practice Engagement and Innovation will design curriculum and program enhancements to prepare current law school students for the legal industry, CPEI’s director James Lupo said.
The center’s board members attended a forum last week with other colleagues to discuss the legal industry.

“This project is critical, in my view, to the future success of our current students and the students who will come to us in the future,” Lupo wrote in an email to The Daily. “The systematic and consistent drive to keep our educational product marketplace relevant is important to distinguish NU Law.”

An advisory board of experts from various law fields — some of them NU alumni — will help promote curricular and programmatic innovation, Lupo said.

“The diversity in career and backgrounds is what makes CPEI a special thing,” Brian Cohen, a CPEI board member, said. “I could answer for my law firm but just that would be pretty limited since people going into law want to do all sorts of different things.”

Chloe Rossen (Law ’14), another CPEI board member, said having a diverse group of people on CPEI’s advisory board will incorporate the perspective of recently graduated lawyers who might be unsure what they will do right after school.

During the forum last week, attendees discussed some initial questions CPEI is trying to tackle, Cohen said. Many of these questions circled around the idea of what a lawyer’s role, judgement and skills are supposed to be, he said.

“I work in the finance group at my firm and basically the day-to-day work that I’m doing, I barely did any work like that in law school,” Rossen said. “What the center can start doing is having more classes and opportunities that will give you that kind of experience and also show people what it’s like when you’re actually practicing.”

Those who teach law could improve in the way they instruct students how to write well and how to adopt a sense of professional responsibility, Dean Hansell, a CPEI board member, said.

“CPEI is an impressive effort,” Hansell noted. “Northwestern has always been a leader in legal education innovation, so when they approached me to discuss this it did not surprise me at all, and to my knowledge there really is not an analogue to it in other schools.”

CPEI is organizing a survey and debrief program for NU third-year law students and recent alumni on their assessment of critical curricular successes and needs, Lupo said. The first design workshop will take place this spring.

The data we report will be very useful to undergraduates considering law school,” Lupo said.

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated the name of the Center for Practice Engagement and Innovation. The Daily regrets this error.

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