When the pandemic forced Massachusetts courts to close, Suffolk University School of Law (Suffolk Law) found a solution through virtual collaboration. Over 100 coders, user experience experts, designers, lawyers, linguists, and a student team “gathered” at the Legal Innovation & Technology Institute’s LIT Lab to develop the Courtformsonline.org app, which allows community members to file court documents on their mobile phones. Not only was the effort entirely volunteer-based, but its open-access framework enabled it to be adapted in other jurisdictions—as is ongoing in Germany and South Africa.
“We created step-by-step, guided processes, which is a lot like sitting down across the table from a lawyer who is going to help walk you through a form one-on-one,” Quinten Steenhuis, the leading LIT Lab clinical fellow explained to NBC Boston. The free online tool increased efficiency, affordability, and access to the justice system for users from all walks of life, whether they were filing for housing assistance in emergencies or protection from domestic violence.
This is how Suffolk Law embodies the spirit of change that exists at the core of the justice system. Here is a school that explores all fronts in educating the next generation of lawmakers — the perfect example being the realization of innovative digital possibilities. It comes as no surprise, then, that preLaw Magazine ranked Suffolk Law the Best School for Legal Technology in the United States, praising the “tech firepower” that allowed its faculty and students to spring into action during the pandemic.
“As preLaw magazine notes, Suffolk Law is using technology to develop solutions to real legal challenges that affect real people,” says university president Marisa Kelly.
Well ranked and respected
Suffolk Law is celebrated beyond Massachusetts, where it produces over a quarter of the state’s judges. For six years in a row, it is the only law school in the nation with 4 skills programs (clinics, dispute resolution, legal writing, and trial advocacy) ranked among the top 20% of all law schools, according to US News & World Report. Its graduates are consistently equipped with top-tier legal writing, clinical, trial advocacy, and dispute resolution skills, which follow them well into their careers.
On top of that, Suffolk Law is among preLaw Magazine/National Jurist’s Top Schools for IP Law in spring 2021. College Magazine also ranked the law school in the top ten for sports law, exhibiting the range of legal expertise that professionals stand to gain. These rankings are testament to the high-quality, industry-relevant education on offer at this leading law school.
Master of Laws Graduate Tanuja Walsh from Peru is grateful to Suffolk Law’s programs and faculty for her positive postgraduate experience; she obtained practical experience at Suffolk’s Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples Legal Clinic. “I had a fantastic experience with all the professors who taught me. They are professional and dedicated to every student. They really demonstrate expert knowledge and passion for what they do. I was inspired by all of them and very grateful for all their help,” she shares.
Cutting-edge legal courses
Suffolk Law offers several experiential programs which allow candidates to further their foray into their legal niche. This includes the Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Global Law in Technology, with specializations in International Law and Business; Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law; or Biotechnology and Health Law. The Certificate in Legal Innovation and Technology is also a popular option; it is an online course that has attracted students from five different continents.
Among the new and exciting degrees on offer is the Master of Science in Law: Life Sciences. In this interdisciplinary, STEM-designated program, students create a pathway into the life sciences industry using a practical combination of law, science, and business. Given the 130% increase in demand for master’s candidates over the last decade, lawyers who graduate from these programs are ready to step into the next phase of their careers.
“Students are presented with real-world problems and taught the problem-solving skills to identify and find the best solution for the client. It is this high-quality education which distinguishes Suffolk’s faculty’s teaching from traditional, lecture-based classroom learning,” says Hyndavi Metta from India, who did the LL.M. in Global Law and Technology. “One of Suffolk’s best assets is the law faculty, who are experts in their fields and are supportive teachers in the classroom.”
Take the leap at Suffolk Law
The school’s impact on the community can be seen in the achievements of its 23,000 graduates, who apply their expertise in and beyond the courts. Besides numerous graduates serving as judicial leaders — including three alumni members on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court — Suffolk Law graduates also go on to build fulfilling careers in public policy/government, NGOs, human rights law, healthcare, business, environmental law, criminal and civil litigation, international arbitration, intellectual property, entertainment law, labor and employment and many other domains, each doing their part to uphold justice in a world of emerging challenges. The school’s inclusive community sets the foundation for a diverse group of law professionals to discover their role in the community.
In his 2005 Suffolk Law School Commencement address, then-Senator Joseph Biden contextualized the role of the law in bridging divides. In his words, “Our passions have driven us to the very edges of reason on critical issues that demand logic, cool heads, clear, rational thought, and — the dirty word today — the ability to compromise.” This is why the world needs well-equipped lawyers — the very same that are being shaped at Suffolk Law.
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