Richmond Law School professors Jessica Erickson and Josh Kubicki join us to discuss how they are teaching law students not only the critical skills to “think like a lawyer” but also the understanding that they are entering the world of business. Whether that is in BigLaw, non-profit, in-house, public interest, or solo practice, they need to have a baseline of business acumen to practice and thrive.
Prof. Kubicki runs Richmond’s Legal Business Design Hub that delivers leading-edge competitive skills to the law students and is part of a one-two punch created by Richmond Law Dean Wendy Perdue who also hired Prof. Janice Craft to lead the Professional Identity Formation program which focuses on interpersonal skills needed to be a successful, yet healthy legal professional.
Prof. Erickson runs the Law and Business Forum which connects Richmond Law Students with the local business community and teaches students a better understanding of what it means to be a business lawyer.
Our inspiration this week comes from someone who we met (virtually) at the HBR LINKS conference. This fellow legal information professional mentioned that he’s listened to all 133 (now hopefully 134) episodes. That is amazing! You inspire us!!
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Music: As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.
Marlene Gebauer 0:21
Welcome to The Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer,
Jessica Erickson 0:28
And I’m Greg Lambert. So last week, Marlene and I participated and under sponsored the HBR Legal Information + Knowledge Services or LINKS conference, and it was great seeing so many of you there and I particularly wanted to give a shout out to one of our podcasts mega supporters, Marshall Voizard from Hughes Hubbard in New York, Marshall jumped into the Three Geeks breakout room that we had there at the virtual conference. And he told us that he has listened to absolutely all of our episodes. And that’s just crazy amazing.
Marlene Gebauer 1:04
That is very impressive. And so, you know, I do want to say that we’re happy. It’s not just us who listened to our catalog.
Jessica Erickson 1:11
I’m forced to as the editor, I have to listen. So thanks, Marshall, for listening and supporting the show, and especially for letting us know,
Marlene Gebauer 1:21
We really do appreciate all of you who take the time to listen, and we very much enjoy hearing from you.
Jessica Erickson 1:26
So we’d love to give more shout-outs to listeners. So reach out to us and let us know what you like, what you don’t like, or what you would like to hear on an upcoming episode. So our contact information is in the show notes. So and thanks again, Marshall. You are very cool.
Marlene Gebauer 1:42
Greg Lambert 1:44
And even pod dog agrees.
Marlene Gebauer 1:46
Yes pod dog does agree. With
Jessica Erickson 1:49
Marlene, we have this great interview with two law professors at Richmond Law school in Virginia. And I want to thank Roger Skalbeck there at Richmond for arranging this meeting for us. We had such a good conversation that I think we just need to go ahead and jump right into the discussion.
Marlene Gebauer 2:06
Yes, thank you very much, Roger.
Marlene Gebauer 2:09
We’d like to welcome Josh Kubicki, Director of Legal Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Richmond School of Law. And Jessica Erickson, Law Professor and Director, Richmond Law and Business Forum, Josh and Jessica, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Jessica Erickson 2:23
Thanks for having us.
Josh Kubicki 2:24
Jessica Erickson 2:25
So there’s a lot of discussion about how law schools can better prepare law students for the practice of law, including the business of law. And I for one also get asked a lot of specifics by what it is they could be exposing the students to while they have them. That would make them you know, more practice-ready. So I think we have a couple of law professors here who not just ask the questions, but have actually put some practical skills teaching into practice there at Richmond. So Jessica, before we get into any specifics of what you and Josh are doing there with your different programs at Richmond, can you tell us what you saw as was either missing or needed some kind of adjustment in the legal education to better prepare your law students for the you know, the real world of practice?
Jessica Erickson 3:12
Sure. So I’ll actually go back about five years, and say that, at that point, many of us on the Law Faculty, and I’d really give credit to our Dean, Wendy Purdue, who said, we know that law students, our law students need a broader set of skills. We have a general sense as to what they are. But candidly, I mean, most of us are traditional law professors. We teach doctrinal courses, we’re in clinics, we teach legal writing, we couldn’t exactly pinpoint, at that time, exactly what the set of skills were. And we recognized our own limitations there. So what happened was about five years ago, the dean put together two committees. And one committee was what I would say is more on the business side of the law, and one committee was on I’m gonna use a term that I hate, but on the softer skills, the question was, within each of those buckets, what should we be teaching? And how then should we incorporate those skills into our, into our curriculum? And those committees each spent a year separately and often talking to each other along the way, but really doing a deep dive and we looked at a lot of surveys of law firm partners, we looked at the client-side of things, we looked at what other law schools were doing, it was really a pretty comprehensive review, trying to build out what are the precise set of skills that we thought that our law students needed, and none of this was to say they don’t need what we were already teaching them. We think they need legal writing, they need legal doctrine. They need the skill side that we were doing across the board. But we had the sense that there was something more and at the end of that year, both committees came up with pretty lengthy reports that went into a lot more detail about what we thought our students needed. And on the business of law side, we thought they needed more Around business and finance, more around understanding the industry, more about understanding project management process improvement, how legal services are delivered, how they should be delivered. And so we were able to come up with a pretty robust set of skills that we thought our students needed. And we did the same on what we started to call our professional identity formation side, that students needed to be able to determine the values of the profession, understand what their own values were, in connection with the profession, understand and cultivate skills, like empathy, and active listening, and leadership skills. We then came up with this long list of skills and realize that, frankly, they weren’t being taught as systematically as we would like through our curriculum. And that doesn’t mean they weren’t being taught at all they were, I mean, certainly, if you look at, look at our clinics, they teach a lot around active listening. And those skills just as one example there, but you know, the clinics were doing a lot of the heavy lifting on this. And we decided to build it out more systematically. And so we hired two new people. We hired Josh to run our legal innovation and entrepreneurship program, which is now legal business design. And then we hired Janice Craft to run our professional identity formation program. And so the students start with what is now we required one-credit class in their first year on professional identity formation, thinking through the values of the profession and their own values, and developing some of those other skills. And then we have this panoply of electives in the 2L and 3L years, both on the professional identity side and then also on the legal business design. So that’s where we ended up I will say, it was a little bit interesting to go through that process as a faculty and realize at the end of the day that what we had thought law students needed was pretty darn close to the Delta model.
Jessica Erickson 6:47
Yeah, I was gonna say it was you are as you are listing it out. That’s exactly what I was thinking.
Jessica Erickson 6:52
Yeah, that reassured us a lot. But I will tell you, our process was separate and from theirs, and we got to the end and saw other people, people got to the same conclusion. So that was reassuring. That’s probably more than you wanted.
Marlene Gebauer 7:05
I was going to say, it’s like, you’re going right into my next question. So you know, we’ve interviewed several guests who, you know, are promoting innovation in law school, and you mentioned the Delta Model. So we’ve had Cat Moon and Alyson Carroll on discussing that. We’ve had Jennifer Leonard, discussing Penn Law’s Future of the Profession Initiative, Nicole Morris highlighted or TI:GER program at Emory. And, Anne Tucker and Ben Chapman talked to us about Georgia State’s Law and Business Analytics program. So Josh, and Jessica, you know, where do you think your program fits into this world of law school innovation programs?
Jessica Erickson 7:41
I’ll do the, I’ll tell you broadly how we saw it as we were building it, but then I’ll really turn it over to Josh, who was much more, you know, in the thick of this. For us, when we were crafting it, we talked to many of the people that you just mentioned. So Cat Moon, Alyson Carrol, Nicole Morris, they were all really helpful to us, as we tried to figure out what we wanted to build. I think what makes our program unique is that we were not just on the business side of law, nor were we just on the professional identity formation side of law, we thought it was very, very important to launch both programs at the same time, we thought, I want our students to have the business side, I’m a corporate lawyer myself. So that’s my doctrinal area of specialty, I very much believe in it. But I think the professional identity formation side is just as important. And vice versa. We didn’t want to start that side without getting to think about the industry more broadly. So we launched these together. And our hope is to really build out a robust set of courses that starts with a required course in this area, and then build out for lots of electives for students to explore their particular passions.
Josh Kubicki 8:42
So I will add there, where we fit in sort of the ecosystem or spectrum that you guys have sort of outlined for us. I think we fit a very unique, yet complimentary place, I don’t think we’re trying to do something different for different sake, I think we see an opportunity in the market where others haven’t, or others haven’t taken action yet. And that is really sort of on equipping our law students with the business, not just knowledge, but actual skills to go design businesses. And by the way, a business can be nonprofit, a business can be public interest, it can also be their own practice. In big law. One of the things we start in the legal business design hub is with the recognition that legal services, no matter what type of organization, they’re delivered through a business model. So it’s incumbent on future lawyers to understand at the granular level, what a business model consists of. And one of the things that we teach always we touch on this in almost every class that I teach is, if you’re going to design a business, you’ve got to do three things really well. Design it really well for your customers or clients so they’re getting value. Design it for the business so that you’re generating value, you don’t want to be losing you don’t be losing money year after year, because that’s not a sustainable business. And you want to be designing it for yourself and your employees and everyone who’s delivering that, right? What does that worker experience? And just to take it back to professional identity formation, it’s interesting because Professor Craft and I hired at the same time, the Dean and Jessica and other sort of key faculty have given us lots of room to sort of discover our law students meet them where they are, and sort of design the curriculum around them and Professor Craft and I continue to sort of meet on the sort of central themes, and that is, make sure that the lawyers are leading, or can lead healthy, personal lives, professional lives, and business lives. And so Jessica, yeah, you said sort of the soft skills. But that’s where sort of this really meets the road, we want to, we don’t want to be putting law students out there who are solely focused on just being amazing lawyers, which is great. But we also know that in a profession, when you put your personal health aside, or you put your employees well being aside, we get into some of the troubles and some of the themes that we’re discussing now for the first time in a long time, in industry as a whole. So our programs are really sort of designed to mitigate that and hopefully eliminate it in future lawyers
Jessica Erickson 11:22
And Josh mentioned this in passing, but I wanted to kind of clarify, I know a lot of programs, you know, it’s pretty easy, I think to set them up as though most of your students are going to go into big law. But I imagine Richmond is kind of like my old school Oklahoma where Yeah, there, there’s probably you know, 10, 15, 20% of the people that will do that. But you got 80%, that’s going to go somewhere else. And your programs are focused across all of the future places that your students land?
Josh Kubicki 11:56
Absolutely. In fact, just this this semester, I’m in the midst of teaching a building blocks for small and solo practices. So these are those lawyers, who, what I would say are already there. They’re going to be entrepreneurs, who happened to be entrepreneurs, as lawyers, building legal businesses, right. So it’s all around the pragmatic and practical skill set that you need to go build a successful small practice.
Jessica Erickson 12:23
Great. Yeah, that’s good, because I think a number of the programs that we’ve read about I think, tend to be very focused on the big law setting. So it’s nice to see a more well rounded program. Jessica, I wanted to get back to you because there was something that caught my eye as I was researching what you’re doing there at Richmond. And I noticed that, you know, Richmond, there participates, or as one of the initial schools participating in what’s called the Institute for Future Legal pPractice. Why did you guys pick that to participate in that? And I and from what I’m reading, it’s a boot camp model. And can you tell us what what are some of the benefits of having that boot camp model?
Jessica Erickson 13:07
Yes. So IFLP (iFlip), as I think it’s often called has changed a lot over the years. And so when we first started to participate in it, we were one of the initial schools we we I would say we fought a little bit to be part of that those initial schools because we saw it and we’re really intrigued by it. So what it was originally and and Bill Henderson and others created this, was that students would go and do a three week boot camp, either and I think Chicago, Boulder, or Toronto, on these business side of law skills, what they call the T shaped lawyer, and those skills across the top of the T that lawyers need a little bit of exposure to but not to be experts in around, you know, business process improvement, etc. They would do that three week boot camp, and then they would do a 10 week paid internship with a company or a law firm or a nonprofit that was interested in having interns who were trained in these topics. And so we had students at Bryan Cave, we had students at CISCO, we, we had students really some great places. The first year I believe we had five students, I think we had the second highest number of students in that program. And it was fabulous for them. I mean, I can’t emphasize it enough. I actually have a student who then went back into the seven month advanced program the following year with Cisco. She just started working for them full time. I mean, it worked for her. And then we had students who said this was the best professional experience I ever had. I mean, it was truly fabulous. I was so interested in it. I was just frankly the coordinator of it on the Richmond side. I didn’t do any of the building of it. But I actually went out to the boot camp for three days and sat in Chicago in the classroom with the students because I wanted to see what they were learning and how they were learning it. I found it fascinating. My understanding is that over time IFLP’s business model became tough to sustained. It was tough to put all of this into place as a law school. We weren’t paying for any of it. And so it has, it has shifted, and Josh could talk more about what it looks like today.
Marlene Gebauer 15:10
Hey, I wanted before Josh, before you start, I just wanted to ask, how did they match students with organizations?
Jessica Erickson 15:17
Yeah, that’s a great question. So what happened was that, essentially the schools were able to nominate people, this is how it originally started, the schools were able to nominate, I think we got to nominate five people, that number could be wrong. And once we once they went through our screening process, they were put into a pool of essentially, screened applicants. And then IFLP did some screening on their end. But then the employers would do their own interviewing and hiring from that pool. So the employers got to pick who they wanted. But we found that our students did pretty well, in that process. The second or third year, IFLP, opened it up not just to that first set of law schools, but to lots and lots of law schools. And I think then, that it was a little bit tougher, you know, for everyone. I mean, from a school perspective, I could put in my time on it, if it meant we had five students going through this experience, if we’re gonna have one student putting the restraints, it’s probably not a great use of my time. So became a little bit of a harder sell as it went on. But Josh could talk about what it looks like today.
Josh Kubicki 16:19
Yeah, I mean, for those interested it’s it’s been an interesting journey for IFLP and and the reason why I would speak on their behalf, I’m not formally associated with them, I mean, I guess maybe I am. So when they, they launched the the modern law practice certification classes and curriculum, which is five modules, about two hours each. I’m one of the instructors for one of those modules on legal business design. So we worked with the organizers of IFLP, Bill Henderson, Kevin Colangelo, last year, maybe longer, I don’t know, my timeline is all skewed, to basically help them launch the online certification program. And so anyone can sign up for that I forget, quite honestly, if there’s a cost or not, you go through the five modules, and you get a certification from IFLP. From my understanding real quickly, there are plans to relaunch the boot camps and internship opportunities next year. But I’m not exactly sure what all the details are there.
Marlene Gebauer 17:23
So what type of feedback that students you know, an organization’s kind of bring back? And, you know, because I’m just sort of curious, it’s like, well, you know, did they offer feedback? Was that acted upon? You know, maybe is that part of the reason why it’s coming? Why the boot camp is coming back?
Jessica Erickson 17:41
So I will say is it participating school, we didn’t see a ton of the feedback, you know, our Our job was primarily to recommend students to enter the internship pool. And from there, it was a private employment relationship between the students and the employers, along with that three week boot camp. So we did not see a lot of feedback about it. And for us, we only had, I don’t know, seven or eight students total go through the program over the over the two years. And so we couldn’t really track over time that we didn’t have enough to do any big study. Maybe IFLP it as a whole. I think what it did is it broadened students lens, you know, students are very much in the law school mentality of thinking about legal doctrine and thinking about the writing side and the skill side, they are not thinking about the profession generally. And they are not thinking about these other sets of skills that they need. And I think IFLP through the boot camp in the internship very much put that on students agenda. And it was right for Richmond, at the same time that we as a school were thinking about these additional skills. So it was a great way for us to kind of get it, get a window into this process, and then come back and try to build our own program.
Jessica Erickson 18:48
Well, anything that bill Henderson and Kevin Colangelo, work on I have great faith that it’s a great program. So Josh, I want to talk to you because I was talking to a friend of mine there Richmond, and he kind of told me some stories of of your travels literally, between the time you you were hired a couple of years ago, and now and that, that you’ve been traveling back and forth from Cincinnati to Richmond. First of all, how to how do you do that? And second, I’m sure there’s some stories to tell. Along the way here.
Marlene Gebauer 19:22
How long have you been doing this? Because I mean, when you’re doing this during COVID, you know, how did you handle it?
Josh Kubicki 19:27
Well, we can thank COVID for that commute, because that wasn’t the original intention. The original intention was to move to Richmond, and given the great pause on everyone’s life that COVID introduced. And certainly everyone was infected and I’m certainly families were impacted much more negatively than mine. Mine just happens to be. We are not there in Richmond right now. And so I have been doing the commute which is seven and a half hours one way every week. It’s a it’s it’s, it’s I will say it is pressed my cognitive ability to turn 15 hours of driving into productive time and everyone’s like, have you thought of podcasts Have you thought about Of course I
Jessica Erickson 20:17
was gonna suggest this really good podcast you can listen to.
Josh Kubicki 20:21
I’m familiar with your entire back catalogue. Um, you know, it’s like I can go deep on any audio material. So it’s, it’s a struggle, but I will say all kidding aside, my first adjunct teaching was at Michigan State with Dan Katz and Renee Knake and I drove four and a half hours to teach a class and then I drove back. So apparently there’s something about me and teaching law students I’m willing to drive ungodly amounts of time. I don’t know it’s worth it but
Jessica Erickson 20:53
what what kind of car do you have that you put in all these miles on
Josh Kubicki 20:57
Ha. Funny you asked. I bought a Ford F 150 to make that drive.
Jessica Erickson 21:04
Nice and fuel efficient.
Josh Kubicki 21:06
The size you know, you want to feel like you’re like, you know, part of all the truck traffic out there. So
Marlene Gebauer 21:12
it’s almost like you’re driving in your house in an F 150
Jessica Erickson 21:15
It’s funny because when I moved down here to Houston in 2002, I would travel every week back to Oklahoma because we hadn’t moved down here yet. And I had a Ford F 150. And it was a seven and a half hour drive. So I think I feel your pain. Yes on that. Any any? Any tickets? On the way to and fro
Josh Kubicki 21:38
Real quickly. Yes, I got like one of my first jobs
Marlene Gebauer 21:42
You don’t need to answer this.
Josh Kubicki 21:45
I pled guilty, I paid the fine. I was fine. So now I know it’s you know, nine is fine and 10 your mine right? So you’ve got to go nine miles over on cruise. Let’s see I’ve, I’ve hit a deer. So I’ve got that. So I hit a deer while moving into my apartment from my bed was full, literally with my bed and other things because I’ve rented an apartment there in the rain hit a deer. And let’s let’s keep the stories at that. I don’t need anything. I like long boring drives.
Greg Lambert 22:14
There we go. There we go.
Marlene Gebauer 22:15
Alright, so we’ll get we’ll get back to the Richmond Law and Business Forum. So Jessica, you run the Richmond Law and Business Forums, can you explain the mission you have with this forum? And how it interacts with students overall education?
Jessica Erickson 22:29
Sure. So this section a little bit separate than what we’ve been talking about so far. So we’ve been talking about Josh’s program on the legal business design side and Janice Craft’s program on the professional identity formation side, my program, the Richmond lawn Business Forum is separate from those. But I think it’s related in the sense that it recognizes that there is this broader set of skills that law students need. And for me, I see our programs a little bit on the career development side, I noticed that we kept telling students, you need to get out there you need to network. And I have to imagine that if you’re a law student, there’s almost nothing more annoying than hearing professors and others say that because they.
Marlene Gebauer 23:09
Come on, hustle. Be hungry.
Jessica Erickson 23:15
And they think to themselves, am I just how many cold emails can I send to people saying you don’t know me, but I’d like to take you to coffee, right? So what I wanted to do was to basically curate networking opportunities for our law students, create opportunities for them to meet and talk to business lawyers. And I wanted them to do that for two reasons. Number one, I wanted them to start to build their own professional networks and get used to thinking about their networks and how they’re going to cultivate that network over time. And second, I really wanted them to get a sense as to what business law practice was like, not just the law as we’re reading in the case books. But what do business lawyers actually do on a day-to-day basis? Is that something that aligns with their own professional goals and their own personal goals? And to think about when somebody says, do you want to be a business lawyer to understand what types of roles are under that umbrella? How an IP lawyer is different from a securities lawyer is different from a real estate lawyer. So we created this forum. Ironically, as when Dean Purdue and I were first talking about it, I said, I want to have a series of dinners where we can sit down. Not these huge events in big classrooms where it’s a lot of students sitting passively in an audience, I want people around a table talking to each other. And then COVID hit and we launched this program in the middle of COVID, where the idea of sitting around a table all of a sudden felt really dangerous. So so we launched the program in January of last year, all of our events in the spring, we’re on zoom. And every single time you know how it is when you log into a zoom event that you’re throwing and you think I’m going to throw in a zoom party and Will anybody show up and every time I would log on and there’d be 50 students there 60 students, if we kept attendance, it would fill in 90 minutes. And it made me realize, like students were hungry for this. This fall, we are back fully in person. So we’re having in person events. And we’re having everything from what we’re calling our business law over dinner series, which is we have three lawyers, five students and me. And we sit around a table, we pick a particular area of law. So last week, it was intellectual property. Tomorrow night, we have one on mergers and acquisitions two weeks from now commercial real estate. And we just talk about the practice of law in that area with students who are interested in it or potentially interested. And then we have other events as well. So we have one, for example, on how to read a balance sheet. We have one on representing small businesses on the startup community in Richmond, just things were at, you know, sort of the broader perspective that they may not get in some of their classes.
Greg Lambert 25:45
So how many students are showing up for the events now?
Jessica Erickson 25:49
Yeah, so it’s interesting. So we are right now one of the largest student organizations at the law school, even though we launched 10 months ago. So we have 115 members. At our first event, I had the first event which was on venture capital and private equity funding, I had us in a classroom that held 50 people. And while I was waiting for our speakers, one of my student organizers came out and said, Professor Erickson, we just filled the room. And luckily, I had booked a bigger room. And so we made everybody shift down, we probably had 70 people at that one. So what I’m learning is there’s a lot of student appetite for this, and candidly I think there’s a lot of appetite for them to meet each other. We were in person last year, but the building was weird, right? The building didn’t have the same energy. I’m finding a lot of our 2Ls are just as are our two L’s are just as excited to meet each other as they are to meet the lawyer. So I think that’s contributing as well.
Marlene Gebauer 26:41
Josh, for the legal business design hub, what’s the process for the selection of an innovator in residence? So I think you’ve had a couple now, right?
Josh Kubicki 26:52
Yeah, we had Baker Donelson last year, our first one, and we have Troutman Pepper coming up in 2022. And so the main role of the innovator in residence has to do with our legal business design challenge, which is an actual business challenge that’s embedded in a full semester course. And so that’s where the students are working literally, side by side as part of a team as part of a cohort, with practitioners, and business of law leaders and managers of an organization. In this case, it was Baker Donelson, and now we’re going to be traveling pepper, they have to actually surface a real business opportunity. This is not purely vanity, this is not just something made, we make up we literally spend time with law firm leadership, to unearth, some opportunities in the marketplace that the firm might want to pursue. And then we spend the majority of the class with students and practitioners and business leaders of the law firm working to really stress test that, validate that, and then ultimately sort of present that to law firm leadership. So they have a clear sense of what is the possible business impact? What’s the possible client impact? And what would we actually need to do to go pursue this? So to answer your question, how do we sort of select the innovator in residents? We have to find an organization that’s willing to invest time, actual human beings, right, that understand that they’re going to be opening up to some degree, you know, the curtain on their business model, on their culture, on their strategy. Now, we don’t ask for client-sensitive information and data or anything like that. But they have to be willing to have frank, candid conversations with the students. Because at the end of the day, to stress test an actual business opportunity, you have to know what the firm is capable of doing and not capable of doing. And so that’s sort of the best way to think about what goes into an innovator in residence. Now, the model will change based on the organization we’re working with. Baker Donelson, Troutman Pepper, both larger law firms. Yes, they tend to have more resources, by the way, which is why they might be good fits here. But that doesn’t preclude us from working with a legal aid association or something like that downstream. It’s just really an intentional commitment on part of the organization to advance an opportunity that they’re sensing in the marketplace.
Greg Lambert 29:22
You mention that each year is different I know you did Baker Donelson the first year and Troutman is it Sanders or Troutman Pepper I can’t remember.
Josh Kubicki 29:32
Now Troutman Pepper now Yes.
Greg Lambert 29:33
Okay. All right. All right. What was the what was the difference between the two programs What did you do the first year and how is that different than the second year?
Josh Kubicki 29:43
So there’s there’s a number of ways to sort of cut it that one though the caveat is is we have yet to launch the Troutman Pepper one. So they’ve come in, in January now we’re working with I’m working with law firm leadership now to sort of set the stage and all that and prepare for the actual course, but they become the the innovator in residence, creating the relationship with the law school in January of 2022. So we really haven’t gotten that one off the ground, or fully designed it. But to answer your question, some of the changes that I’ve made already is, so let’s just back up. I just became a full time faculty member, before that I was an adjunct. And life is different as a full time faculty member versus adjunct not better, not worse, just different. So I became
Greg Lambert 30:30
very politically put, Well done, well done.
Josh Kubicki 30:35
And I did this at the height of COVID. so and so. So first time, full time, fine, full time faculty member, first world pandemic to be sort of involved in in living through, and I decided then my very first class, I’m going to launch the legal business design challenge. The students did not know who Professor jasika picchi was, at this point, no one knew what an innovator in residence was. And yeah, somehow, I thought this was amazing, great idea that I could pull off. Thankfully, I did. But I probably created so much more work for myself, it was insane. But it was successful. So the things that I’m going to change lessons learned as one, it was a lot for my law students, right? This, this is the thing about teaching that you truly can’t appreciate. Until you’re standing in front of a group of law students, and you take responsibility for their future livelihood and their development, you own that as part of their teacher and professor and I realized, the way I presented the material, I was taking way too much for granted, especially at the time of COVID, when everyone was max stressed and all that. So I’ve redesigned the curriculum, to assure the students into it in a more organic way, instead of and I’ll be honest, I was probably forced feeding a little bit too much, and expecting them to connect the dots. They are students after all, Yes, there are. Some are second careers, some are straight out of undergrad. But they’re in that academic setting. And part of the legal business design challenge is to put them ground them in business reality ground them in the practical life, of being in a business that delivers legal services. But I can’t like just go to the edge and push them over. So this I’ve I’ve, I’ve desired
Greg Lambert 32:21
You’re a much nicer professors than the ones I had.
Josh Kubicki 32:26
Yeah, well, I can’t have this, it takes a different mindset for the law student like they, they’re coming to me. And they’re usually coming from the more traditional loss law school classes, which are very valuable, but it, it requires a different way of behaving and thinking when you step into the business context, especially when you start putting the lens on legal service businesses. So I had to understand that. So I redesigned sort of their experience. I’ve also made it four credits instead of three credits to represent sort of the the heightened nature of the work and all that. And obviously, I’ve changed for the innovator and residents role making their role more organic and immersive right alongside with the students
Greg Lambert 33:04
about how many students do do you have in the program each year?
Josh Kubicki 33:07
Well, in the legal business design challenge, the first semester, we had 11, my goal is to get at least 12, I think I would have to be careful about going above that, because the work is the work for me is high, and I love doing it. But there’s enormous burden on me to make sure the students are maximizing their learning, not just keeping busy. And I’ve got to manage a law firm, lawyers and business leaders on the law firm side recognizing their time constraints, and all that. So there’s a lot of sort of management on the back end that I’ve got to take care of.
Marlene Gebauer 33:42
It’s a labor intensive on both sides. And you know, in order to get the best possible outcome, you really do kind of have to limit it.
Greg Lambert 33:48
Yes, yeah. Yeah, I was thinking as you were saying they were coming out of a more traditional classroom and into your program. I imagine a different part of the brain lights up under a CAT scan if if you hadn’t had them scanned on both classes. So yeah, it may take us a few minutes for them to to adjust. So Marlene, and I did this online conference recently, and with HBR. And their CEO Nick Quil said something there that really stuck with me and and that was when it comes to innovation. And he was talking about law firms, is saying the attorney is the innovation and meaning that no matter how much you may have an innovation plan in a professional services industry like like the law, if the lawyer doesn’t actually implement or apply the innovation, it might as well not even exist. So how is it that you train the law students there to understand that innovation isn’t innovation until you actually put it into action?
Marlene Gebauer 34:54
or to even be open to it? Yeah.
Josh Kubicki 34:58
You want me to go first on that, Jessica? So, yeah, oh, it’s a fair observation, I would disagree with it to some, although I know Nick personally, and I’m friends and respect him, but I won’t unpack where I disagree with some of what he said, but to the point that you’ve just made first and foremost, yes, it’s everything’s at the human level, which is why design is part of the program for us. Okay. And this is not design thinking, Okay, that’s a that’s a subset of design. So design is really a human interaction with something a service, a product, a technology, another human? How do we actually create that interaction in a meaningful and authentic way? Right. So when we think about sort of innovation in law, and Nick’s right, a lawyer at some point in time, because lawyers are the only vehicles outside of Arizona and Utah right now, in the states that can deliver legal services. So ultimately, a lawyer must be involved in integrating using or otherwise adopting innovation. So if that’s the case, then we simply have to embed in our students minds. First of all, that’s okay. Like, that’s okay, changing how things have been done, not for the sake of change, but for the sake of improving a client outcome, a client experience, your personal experience lawyer in your daily life, or the experience you’re creating for your employees or peers, like if we’re improving that, that’s okay, like that, that should be part of our daily work, just going around and being good lawyer. So it’s about really embedding that mindset. And the second thing is, actually give them the skills and toolkit so that they can do some of this themselves. We all know from change management, if something happens to you, that’s quite a different feeling, than you helping to create the change itself. If you’re part of the conversation, and you feel smart and equipped to do that, not put into the deep end, not being told, just go innovate and come back to me with something like, that’s unfair. So how do we sort of create this awareness and skill set where lawyers actually feel fully capable of doing this? And we don’t have sort of any of the, what does that curve the Dunning Kruger curve? where we all think we’re experts immediately, and then we fall into the pit of despair or whatever. So which happens a lot, by the way, when we talk about innovation in law.
Greg Lambert 37:33
Now, to be fair to Nick, this, that was just one part of a larger saying, but that was, that was one part that stuck with me. So I wanted to have as much to argue with him about.
Jessica Erickson 37:46
So the only other thing that I would add there is that to me, it really does highlight why I think our two programs that we launched at the same time are so important to be together and why they are synergistic in that way. I mean, what we’re really talking about is, is listening to people, and connecting with people and making sure that you have cultural competence and empathy and all the other human skills to make innovation work, make it actually happen, right, we can send our own offices and come up with the best possible business design. But if you can’t actually get people to adopt it, if it doesn’t resonate with them, it’s not gonna work. And so part of this is really figuring out where are the lawyers? Where are the clients? What do they need, what do they want, and being able to connect with that human side of the law?
Marlene Gebauer 38:29
Alright, so I’m going to go back to my my measuring questions. Again, it’s at this time, I’m sort of applying it to, to your programs, there at Richmond. So you know, how are you measuring your your progress and success, you know, with the programs? And what is the feedback you’re getting? And like, how are participants applying what they’ve learned?
Jessica Erickson 38:53
So I’ll get to this one from sort of the the administration side of things and and I don’t actually administer these programs, but at least for me, one thing I would really emphasize is just how new these programs are. These programs both launched in the Fall of 2020. Right in the state of the world with that is, so to me, at least I’m not at the stage of saying, Can we exactly measure the outcomes? I think we’re still in the stage of figuring out exactly what it is that we’re trying to achieve. Because remember that the people you had designing this were largely doctrinal law professors. We said in our report what we thought it should be, but we weren’t the experts. And we recognize that right from the get go. We have brought in two experts who are themselves figuring out law schools and law students. So I don’t want us to start measuring things until we know what it is we’re trying to achieve. And I think we’re still I want us to be deliberative and contemplated about that. And I also think, I don’t think this is something where you’re going to have really hard metrics in terms of we want to see 5% of our students getting prosthetic up. regular jobs in this area that, for me, at least is not the goal. I think the goal is that they would go into a wide array of jobs and bring this skill set and deploy it in predictable ways and perhaps unpredictable ways as their careers in the industry evolve. So I’m not sure exactly what the precise measures would look like. But Josh, well,
Greg Lambert 40:19
Before we get to get to Josh, I wanted to add something because a couple couple episodes ago, we had a couple of people that wrote this, this legal design book. And one of the things that that they said, and again, they were talking more about law firms, but I think maybe law schools fit this as well. are you measuring enough now to determine once you have the change? So in other words, do you have a base that you’re kind of measuring, that you can look back on. So as you go through the, if you go through these these programs, you’ve got at least this is where we started, we may not know where we’re going to end up, but at least we know, we’ve measured something at the beginning. Do law schools do that?
Jessica Erickson 41:05
No. Just candidly, no, we really don’t. What we measure are the inputs. We don’t measure the outputs. In other words, we tend to measure what what learning students are being exposed to, right. So I will be able to tell you how many courses they were taking in this area versus before versus how many they take, hopefully, when we build out both programs to their full capacity. That’s just measuring kind of what went in, what then comes out? No, I don’t think we do a very good job of measuring it
Greg Lambert 41:36
other than bar passage and higher hire rates.
Jessica Erickson 41:39
Exactly. And I’m not sure that this will directly feed in there, maybe it will, in some unexpected ways. But clearly our goal,
Greg Lambert 41:45
well, well, maybe, maybe, maybe it will shock the system enough to say, Okay, well, look, let’s, let’s look back, and you know, here, here is our base model, and then we can go forward, so just yeah, I
Marlene Gebauer 41:59
mean, here’s the base, and like, it’d be interesting, like in five years to kind of have an alumni, you know, just sort of have an alumni models like what, you know, what are people doing? And, you know, how have they applied it in different, you know, you know, different different roles? Okay, sorry, Josh, we we gotta let you talk now.
Josh Kubicki 42:13
No, no, that’s fine. I think you guys have just summed up the the part of my journey, and joining the law school faculty, right. So you just heard Jessica talk about measurement and all that or lack thereof measurement on the front end. And I come from the business side, where I’m always measuring out the output, the outcome. There’s no reason to do upstream activity unless we’re measuring something downstream. And so yes, while the programs are new, you know, I’m already thinking about how do we actually measure this. And so a couple of points, I just want to bring out one. So one of the things we haven’t talked about, which again, differentiates our law school, Richmond from others, is that in our career development office, we have a role specifically for emerging careers in the law. Notice I said emerging, we don’t we don’t say alternative. We don’t say anything like that we say emerging, right? And it’s really meant to help facilitate the dialogue, the awareness, among students, amongst alumni in the market, that there are new roles emerging for JD graduates. Right. And that’s, so that’s part of our program here. We’re all sort of focused on that. So yes, an easy measurement might be, let’s define categorically what a traditional employment situation looks like for a Richmond grad, a year out, or two years out. And let’s start measuring and see how many now that’s, that’s not causality like, because if the world is expanding in emerging roles, we may not be creating that demand, but we’re creating sort of supply of talent, which we should, by the way, we should be doing that. But Marlene, to your point, one of the things that I think is an advantage of the legal business design challenge part of our program is it does create a very unique student experience. And to your point of alumni like there is a plan to create a legal business design challenge alumni or participant network, where we like Baker Donelson, like they’ve got a they’ve got a very they’re not done. Like they now have a relationship with the school, they they are now going to start recruiting, they weren’t recruiting our grads before, and they’re going to start recruiting the emerging role, too. So now we’ve got a law firm that is now more invested in students and I hope Toutman Pepper does that too. So we bring back Baker Donelson, we bring back Troutman Pepper and the students in a year or so. And yes, we have the discussion. How do we measure this? We we do grab the anecdotes and the stories and all that and we start to pull that stuff together. It will take time. But I do believe there’s a strong narrative here. I don’t think there’s gonna be a lack of measurement. I think there’s just enough data when do we have enough information and data to create a meaningful measurement.
Greg Lambert 45:00
So, Josh, other than moved to Richmond and resting your Ford F 150. A little bit, what kind of plans do the two of you and I guess also Janice Craft as well in her program, what’s on the horizon for the next year or two?
Jessica Erickson 45:18
So for me, it was one of the things Josh and I have talked a lot about is building in layers. I think it’s really, really tempting when you start a new program to do all of the things, right to just start building in every direction all at once. And I think that’s a bad idea from a number of levels, but especially right now during COVID, with all of its limitations, for me, I would love to see us. Let’s figure out, you know, what, what is our first layer? Let’s really get set, what is what is the course piece of this? And what courses do we want, then we can start building out in terms of more Co-curriculars. And more, you know, classes being taught by adjuncts who are coming in, because I think I would love to see us have lots of courses in this area. Josh is only one person, Janice is only one person, right? So how do we how do we build out in other directions? For me, I would love to see these two programs be real keystones to the school, to be something that, you know, every Richmond law graduate has these two sets of skills along with all the other traditional skills. It’s gonna take some time to build out that program in a really full way. But I can’t wait to see it happen.
Marlene Gebauer 46:25
That sounds great.
Greg Lambert 46:26
And Josh, how about you?
Josh Kubicki 46:28
I’ll just second what is what Jessica just said. I mean, it’s it’s it’s challenging to check yourself. And I’ll say course design again, going back to new faculty, designing a course. I mean, there’s no textbooks for the stuff I teach. There just aren’t Yes, there’s lots of people have written books. And yes, we of course, Richard Susskind and all that kind of but I don’t I don’t use those books. What I’m teaching is a lot more practical to be completely blunt, and completely attached to understanding how business operates today and tomorrow. So I’ve got to create all of the content, all the all the curriculum, and quite honestly, one thing we didn’t touch on is what is the learner’s experience? What is the student’s experience in my classes and so, you know, COVID taught us well taught some people a lot of things I happen to work this way beforehand, being an entrepreneur working remotely embracing digital technology. I’ve been embedding that into my classroom, right so the students have living breathing, digital workbooks, that I pre populate and then they have to work to expand over the course of the semester. You know, I complement my classroom experience with short bursts, videos and short excerpts of content and all that kind of stuff. So we’re not just talking about the content and the substance we’re talking about the student experience as well and how do we sort of put all that together. So to answer your question, continue the testing continues sort of making sure we’re adding value to the students lives day one, and really focus on finding the right pieces of curriculum to be sort of building this program around and it sounds like it should be easy. I’ll just tell you it’s not it’s not easy to do this it’s challenging for me anyway.
Greg Lambert 48:15
I bet it is not. Well, Josh Kubicki and Jessica Erickson from Richmond Law School we really appreciate you coming in and talking about your programs there.
Marlene Gebauer 48:25
Yeah, thank you so
Jessica Erickson 48:25
much. Thanks for having us.
Marlene Gebauer 48:30
So that was a great conversation and I mean they’re just I just made was I was making notes about like all the things I liked about it. So you know I love this whole and this is that separate program about sort of comparing your values to the values of the profession. I think that is so important because you know I don’t know about you but I you know, I didn’t have any knowledge of law firms I mean, we didn’t have any lawyers in the family and so I kind of came in very you know open like okay like LA Law that’s what I that’s what I knew about law and and so I think it’s super important for students coming in to really get a sense of Okay, this is what law This is what the business of law is all about you know and compare that to what your values are, you know to make sure that that you’re comfortable with that the other thing I liked it it was in the same industry relation to that doing things that are manageable basically teaching students to you know, engage in your profession but in a way that’s manageable and you know, all I kept thinking, it’s like, yep, it’s a marathon it’s not a race. And you know, this is something you want to do long term and if you you don’t take those things into account, you know, you burn yourself out. Oh, I liked the creating of network opportunities. You know, as someone I mean, I think to myself in law school, I mean, I was very quiet, very shy. I know you’re shocked but it’s true, and and having something like that, I think would have helped you know, me kind of interact. And I think you know, anybody that’s in that position, you know, it’s like you don’t know people and sort of having that opportunity presented to you, I think is wonderful. And the last thing I had was measuring output. I think this, this has come up in other podcasts we’ve talked about with law with law schools, once the students leave, the job is not done. I don’t think. And I think it’s really important, as Josh mentioned, like it, you should be measuring outputs, because that just ties back to your program and makes your program better. It’s sort of like when you when you finish a project, you kind of have that that exit meeting, it’s like, Okay, what happened? What are the results? What should we change? What should we adjust? and that type of thing, I think is critical for a successful program.
Greg Lambert 50:48
Yeah, and just a couple of things that caught my attention during this is one, just the practical business application skills like Jessica, teaching the students how to read a balance sheet, because like we talked about previously that even after four or five years of practicing law, some of these attorneys will never have any business experience. And so you know, being able to teach some of the things there. And the other thing which was funny, because it kind of tied back to our CLE episode was when Josh was talking about putting in short videos into the the training of the students again, that adult learning through short, precise, small tasks like that and teaching through videos. Perfect, perfect. So thanks again to Josh Kubicki and to Jessica Erickson. from Richmond law for sharing all of this with us. It was that was fantastic,
Marlene Gebauer 51:43
great show. So pod dog is going to help me do the credits. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast.
Greg Lambert 51:51
Whether you’re a longtime fan, like our friend Marshall, or if this is your first time listening, we’d love to hear what you think. So embrace your social media presence and send us a note.
Marlene Gebauer 52:01
If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter.
Greg Lambert 52:09
Snd I can be reached on twitter at @glambert.
Marlene Gebauer 52:13
Or you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca. Thank you Jerry.
Jessica Erickson 52:24
Thanks, Jerry. Alright Marlene, I will talk to you later.
Marlene Gebauer 52:27
All right, bye bye.