Queen’s Law, long a pacesetter among Canadian law schools, is again leading the way with the launch of a unique online program for law students and lawyers who want to develop their core business skills: the Graduate Diploma in Legal Services Management.
Composed of five courses, this new program is designed to provide law students – and young lawyers – with the opportunity to acquire business knowledge and skills they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing legal profession. The first course, Financial Literacy for Lawyers, was launched this fall term and as an elective available to upper-year JD students. The full suite of diploma courses will be rolled out one per academic term from now until Winter 2020. Four of the courses will be mandatory; the other will be optional.
This exciting initiative is the brainchild of Dean Bill Flanagan. “Law schools do a great job of educating students about the law and instilling in them the analytical abilities they need to succeed in their legal careers,” he says. “But teaching the business end of legal practice isn’t something which law schools have traditionally seen as part of their core mission.”
In a bid to address that shortcoming, he recruited Shai Dubey, Law’94 – one of his former students – to help develop the content and format for a dynamic new diploma program. Flanagan is convinced that this new program will help its graduates “distinguish themselves in a very competitive job market.”
Dubey was a savvy choice for the task the Dean had in mind. Dubey has a wide and varied experience in the field of legal services management, having background in corporate law, as a faculty member with the Smith School of Business at Queen’s and in a variety of senior positions in both corporate and academic settings.
Dubey worked with an advisory committee to tailor curricula that would focus on the legal profession’s specific needs. “There’s a clear need for law schools to go beyond just teaching the black letter of the law. The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has recognized this, and I used the CBA’s Legal Futures Initiative as one of my reference points when we were designing the Legal Services Management graduate diploma program,” Dubey explains.
He is quick to point out that each of the course offerings – all of which will be taught online – will include a balance of theoretical and practical knowledge. “We need to be careful about using the term ‘online’ because many people have an image of online as meaning that you sit in front of a computer screen and watch taped lectures. The courses we’ve designed all include strong and vital synchronous components – chat rooms, group calls, interactive team projects, and such. All will engage students in meaningful ways.”
For now, the Financial Literacy for Lawyers course is only available to Queen’s Law students; however, the plan is to open enrollment in this and other courses in the Legal Services Management diploma program to practising lawyers everywhere, starting in the spring of 2019. Says Dubey, “They’ll be able to learn new skills, broaden their knowledge base, and more fully understand and serve their clients’ needs. What will be especially appealing to lawyers will be that they can take our program without leaving their offices.
“The legal profession tends to be conservative and risk-averse. The problem with that is that if we don’t change with the times, change will be imposed upon us.”
Graduate Diploma in Legal Services Management Courses:
LAW 849 / LSM 810*,† : Financial Literacy for Lawyers
Acquire core concepts of financial literacy for interactions with business clients and practice management: basic financial accounting techniques, construction and understanding of financial statements, analysis tools, valuation of assets, tax implications of different legal services delivery mechanisms, and financial accounting and management issues.
LAW 850 / LSM 830*: Shaping the Future of Legal Practice
Explore the economic, political, technological, and demographic forces that are disrupting the traditional modes of delivery of legal services, and the theory and practice of entrepreneurship and innovation in the context of a professional services firm.
LSM 820†: Fundamentals of Legal Services Business
Learn the basic core functions of the business of a legal practice: strategy, marketing, sales, operations, and business development. We use actual cases to give students an ideal mix of theory and application.
LSM 840: Working with Teams and Managing People
Lawyers need to manage not only staff, but also other lawyers, professional advisors like accountants, and clients: learn to lead, engage, and manage employees and professional performance using case studies and simulations. Explore best practices to manage change within an organization and respond to internal and external challenges.
LSM 850: Project Management for Lawyers
Project management drives reliable fee estimates, better management and improved profitability: a law firm’s lifeline. Examine best practices used by firms around the world, focusing on in involving clients in legal project management systems while still meeting lawyers’ professional obligations. The course will, for those who are interested, lead to Professional Management Institute (PMI) certification and qualification for the first level of the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation.
*Can also be used for JD course credit at Queen’s Law.
†Mandatory to complete the Diploma.
Learn more about the new Queen’s Law Graduate Diploma in Legal Services Management.
By Ken Cuthbertson