Martin Herman can’t help but view the world through the lens of aviation. As the head of legal services at Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, he spends most of his time buried in the minutiae of the commercial-aircraft business. So when he looks at the Law Practice Program (LPP), the new path to licensing offered at Ryerson University, he sees the legal equivalent of a state-of-the-art flight simulator.
In the first half of the eight-month program, candidates work through mock files in virtual firms and participate in simulated trials under the close guidance of lawyer mentors. “Candidates have the opportunity to test their wings in a safe, controlled environment,” says Herman, who served as a mentor for the first time last year. “The program allows them to test their capabilities — and to find out what needs work — without fear of major consequences.” Here, he explains why this brand of legal training is such a positive force in the profession.
You recently participated in the Law Practice Program as a mentor, helping to steer candidates through the rigorous curriculum. What stood out to you most about the program?
“Even though it’s simulated, it’s not academic. The candidates conduct cross-examinations and video conferences with clients, who are played by a fantastic group of professional actors. It’s as close to real life as you can get. It’s also very fast paced. At first, I couldn’t believe how much the program expected of the candidates. But then I thought: Good. They have to break out of the law-school mentality. This is now their life.”
Though the program begins with simulated legal training, it concludes with a four-month work placement. And, over the past several years, you’ve offered such a placement to two candidates. Tell me about that experience.
“The initial idea was to provide a great training environment to the candidate. We saw the role as primarily educational. We didn’t expect them to come in and help us with our work.”
So what happened once they arrived at the office?
“I’ve been routinely surprised. These candidates are well prepared to start working. The two students I’ve taken on have handled everything from drafting contracts to project management and client relations. I was able to hire back the first student. The second one accepted another offer.”
Would you suggest that other legal employers take part in the program?
“Absolutely! First of all, you get a great new member of your team for four months, who you might want to hire full-time down the line. And you’re drawing on a previously untapped talent pool. It’s good for both your company and for the profession.”
The Law Practice Program at Ryerson University is a rigorous eight-month training program that equips law-school graduates with the practical skills they need to become great lawyers. To learn more, visit ryerson.ca/lpp.
This story is from our Winter 2018 Issue.