Albany Law School: Innovative Strategic Plan To Prepare The Next Generation Of Lawyers And Leaders

Oct 7, 2014

Albany Law School has taken the wraps off what it calls an "Innovative Strategic Plan to Prepare the Next Generation of Lawyers and Leaders" - WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas sat down with school president and dean Penelope Andrews.

From the official press release:

Embracing the professional development of students as its core mission, the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff of Albany Law School announced the adoption of a new strategic plan designed to ensure that Albany Law students are highly prepared for career success in the legal profession and in leadership positions outside the legal field.

Centered on the concept of Opportunity Pathways, the plan ties legal education to career opportunities within the practice of law and other fields. It looks beyond conventional legal education models to provide professional training and job placement opportunities targeting business, public policy, healthcare, government, tax and finance, and innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as traditional legal practice.  The overall goal is to not only prepare the next generation of lawyers but to help them find careers.

The Opportunity Pathways are: Business, Tax and Financial Markets; Government, Policy and Public Service; Health; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Public Interest Law; and Civil and Criminal Advocacy.

"The strategic plan offers a bold approach to modern legal education," said Daniel P. Nolan '78, chairman of Albany Law School's Board of Trustees. "The Opportunity Pathways concept draws on our historic strengths as an institution, including our location in New York's capital and our community of prominent alumni, to help the next generation of law students find rewarding careers as lawyers and leaders in many fields."

"To succeed in the modern job market and add value in the new economy, law students need practical training beyond the traditional law practice so that they may apply their new skills," said Penelope (Penny) Andrews, president and dean of Albany Law School. "The Opportunity Pathways approach provides a road map to professional success by helping students focus their curriculum, work with a mentor, plan internships and ultimately achieve career fulfillment. This plan allows for flexibility as the professional environment for legal careers changes."

Using an expanded curriculum focused around the Opportunity Pathways concept, Albany Law School will ensure students achieve core competencies in their chosen field by requiring all students to participate in clinical programs or field-placement internships and by providing a spectrum of capstone courses. In the classroom, students will be exposed to the many different ways in which legal study serves as preparation for work in the 21st Century economy, including but not limited to the traditional practice of law.

Led by Alicia Ouellette, associate dean for academic affairs and intellectual life at Albany Law School, the strategic plan was developed over two years with input from a broad spectrum of the Albany Law community. 

Dean Ouellette noted, "What's especially appealing about the Opportunity Pathways is that they will change the way we recruit, support, and train our students. From their first day of law school, our students will have clear options inside and outside the classroom to develop the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a fast-changing world."

Professor Mary Lynch, chair of the faculty's Long Range Planning Committee, commented, "I am excited to be expanding the already successful hands-on component of the education we provide at Albany Law School.  Being in the state capital with strong ties to government, and to technology, health care and other business communities, we are able to offer a unique, ready-made laboratory in which students can experiment with the many ways a law degree prepares them for a wide variety of professional fields."