Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. has announced a prestigious new award, the Leading Edge Prize for Educational Innovation. The first winners, who were awarded $10,000 each, were two teams that demonstrated solutions to expand educational and career opportunities for law students and new associates across the country.
The competition was announced in honor of Wolters Kluwer's 5th Annual Leading Edge Conference, an invitation-only gathering of the country's top legal education thought leaders to discuss key issues facing legal education and to brainstorm actionable strategies. Launched as an experiment in attendee-driven "unconferences", Leading Edge has become a highly regarded gathering for the legal education community, with more than half of all law schools in the United States having participated.
Wolters Kluwer launched the prizes with the purpose of awarding teams that demonstrated a vision for improving outcomes and educational opportunities for law school students and new associates. "We are thrilled to award the first Leading Edge Prize for Educational Innovation," said Vikram Savkar, Vice President & General Manager, International and Higher Education Markets, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. "We are committed to exploring how data and technology can improve outcomes in education and drive innovation in the practice of law. The winners of the competition demonstrated a great deal of creativity to help solve some of the most significant challenges that the legal community is facing today."
One of the winning teams, The Pathways Project: Connecting Ambition with Opportunity for Underrepresented Law Students, seeks to use data from a selection of national law schools to identify independent factors that contribute to under-performance in law school and on the bar exam, and to implement interventions to address those factors. The project seeks to serve law students from groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession. The team was led by Hosea H. Harvey, Professor of Law at Temple University's Beasley School of Law, and Gregory Parks, Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Law at Wake Forest University School of Law. The prize will support the research and analysis costs associated with this data-heavy inquiry.
"Law schools have a responsibility to aim high, especially when it comes to the success of underrepresented law students. We are excited to partner with the nation's leading educational resource provider - Wolters Kluwer - to help answer a critical question: how can law schools work harder and do better for underrepresented law students?" said Harvey. "Our goal is simple: to analyze data, gather best practices, and learn from law schools who are investing in the success of under-represented law students," said Parks.
The other winning project, Expanding Access to Justice and Practical Legal Training, focused on two related start-ups - Proboknow and Lowboknow - that are geared toward bridging the access to justice gap. Proboknow is a not-for-profit online platform that connects newer attorneys with low-income clients in need of pro bono help, as well as experienced attorneys to serve as mentors - making it easier and more convenient to connect with pro bono cases and helpful resources. Proboknow is supported by Lowboknow, a for-profit start-up that connects those who earn too much to qualify for free legal help, and yet not enough to afford market rates, with solo practitioners and small law firms who are willing to either reduce their standard rates or make their services more affordable through limited scope representation. The prize will help to fund the companies' expansion into Boston to network with lawyers and clients on the East Coast.
The team included Proboknow and Lowboknow's Co-founder and COO Scott Barnes and Co-founder and CEO Chad Trainer; Martin Pritikin, Dean of Concord Law School at Purdue University Global; Gabriel Teninbaum, Professor and Director of the Institute on Legal Innovation and Technology at Suffolk University Law School; and William Tanner, Director of Clinic and Pro Bono Programs at the Veterans Legal Institute and the Executive Director of the Consortium on Access to Justice.
“We’re honored to have received the Leading Edge prize, and to have the opportunity to help expand practical legal education and access to justice at the same time,” said Chad Trainer on behalf of the team. “Innovation is much-needed in the legal space, and we are grateful that Wolters Kluwer and the Leading Edge Conference are helping to push things forward.”
For more information about the Leading Edge Conference and Prize, visit: www.WKLegaledu.com/leading-edge