Nov. 8, 2018

Practical learning gives students a leg up in legal practice

Instructors' real-life experience helped drive creation of new law course
Students enrolled in Law 599: Marketing and Client Development learn personal branding, marketing and client development, which prepares them for success in the modern legal marketplace.

Students enrolled in Law 599: Marketing and Client Development.

Faculty of Law

Simone Hughes and Adam Pekarsky come at the practice of law with two very different perspectives.

As a former lawyer himself, Pekarsky, the founding partner and executive recruiter at Pekarsky & Co., saw young lawyers struggle while navigating their legal careers.

With experience working for law firms, an HR consultancy and banks for more than 25 years in regional, national and global settings, Hughes leads Field Law’s integrated marketing, business development, brand and public relations functions to support the firm’s strategic priorities of professional excellence and client service. Her challenge lies in helping lawyers understand the importance of branding, marketing, and communicating their value to clients.

After years of friendship and crossing paths in the legal industry, Pekarsky and Hughes began to think of a course that could head off some of the challenges they saw lawyers face. “We thought to ourselves, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could help the Faculty of Law graduate a cohort of students every year that go out into the practice with a head start?'” says Pekarsky.

For Hughes, she wanted to help law students understand the strengths of working with non-lawyers and give them the tools to do so. “It’s important that they don’t marginalize non-lawyers; bring them in and work with them, and you’ll be a stronger lawyer for it,” she explains.

As a result of these ambitions, the course — Marketing and Client Development — was born. Offering a 360-degree immersive and interactive experience in the business of law, personal brand, marketing and client development, the instructors promise a practical course, in line with UCalgary Law’s Calgary Curriculum, which aims to prepare law students for the modern legal marketplace.

The students are evaluated on four components: an assignment that requires a biography and LinkedIn profile, a mock partnership questionnaire, participation in class, which often includes visits from some of Calgary’s most esteemed legal professionals, and a final exam.

The course has been met with glowing reviews by students. Brittney Shales, a second-year law student, explains what the course has given her: “We have learned practical knowledge tailored to understanding law firm economics; creating and understanding our brand; navigating life as a young associate; maximizing profitability and creating a high-performing culture of collaboration; as well as understanding how to understand clients’ needs in a more holistic way. My whole mentality has shifted and left me feeling better-equipped to think like a business owner when I start articling.”