The PoLI Institute at Vanderbilt Law School

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    Do you want to seize opportunities presented by the rapidly changing legal landscape? Do you seek practical, effective tools for innovation? Do you want to make change that creates value — and not simply talk about it?


    You've come to the right place.


    This is not your bar association's CLE. The PoLI Institute offers intensive, focused, and highly-engaging learning experiences designed for legal professionals who have crossed the chasm and seek to lead the legal profession’s journey into an increasingly-complex and ever-more-swiftly changing landscape.


    Taking full advantage of the many opportunities presented by a changing legal landscape requires a different skill set than we learned in law school, or even in legal practice. Automation, commoditization, demands for cost-savings and efficiency, a digitally-powered global legal marketplace, the power (and challenge) of leveraging big data, agile and human-centered legal services delivery — you've got all of this (and much, much more) covered, right?


    If not, you're not alone.


    The PoLI Institute isn’t the first to recognize that today’s legal landscape requires a different skill set than a traditional legal education or professional legal experience affords. We believe this is well-settled, though you can go here and here and here and here to learn more about the ever-evolving state of the legal landscape.


    The Institute is the first comprehensive innovation program for practicing legal professionals to come out of a top 20 law school — one that has been offering its Program on Law and Innovation curriculum to JD students since 2015.


    The Institute also is a community of and for lifelong learners. Every Immersion cohort will be part of the Institute’s virtual learning community, the PoLI Forum, created to support and facilitate innovation and innovators across the legal landscape. The PoLI Forum provides ongoing content to supplement Immersions and a nexus for sharing with and learning from your fellow travelers on the legal innovation journey.


    The Institute’s vision is to be instrumental in the education and professional development of innovation leaders who will transform the legal landscape to better serve all of its stakeholders. In so doing, the Institute seeks to bring along all of those who wish to lead in legal innovation. To this end, the PoLI Institute Fellowship program provides deeply reduced-tuition Immersion experiences to legal professionals who may otherwise lack the resources to attend the Institute. We seek to award up to 2 Fellowships for each Immersion, staring in 2019. For more information about Fellowships, please contact us.

  • How does the PoLI Institute work?


    The Institute’s curriculum offers at least 4 different Immersion learning experiences in a given academic cycle. We deem certain Immersions central to legal innovation for the foreseeable future and plan to offer them more than once in a given academic cycle. Other content may be offered only once (or infrequently). Why? We aim to focus on immerging topics and technology most relevant to the legal landscape and will edit curricular offerings accordingly.


    Observing COVID protocols, Immersions currently are structured as virtual two-day, highly interactive, and engaging learning experiences that combine intensive synchronous sessions hosted in Zoom combined with asynchronous work assignments to support the time we spend learning together.


    We plan to return to offering in-person Immersions as soon as pandemic conditions permit. In-person Immersions are structured as weekend-long, highly interactive, and engaging learning experiences that take place in Vanderbilt’s state-of-the-art innovation space, the Wond’ry. The Wond’ry exists to connect the dots across Vanderbilt to support and facilitate innovation and is designed to support exactly the Institute’s kind of interactive pedagogy.


    Further tapping into the rich resources across Vanderbilt, our pedagogical methods build on what our colleagues at Peabody know about how adults best gain, retain, and apply knowledge. Immersion participants also benefit from faculty across Vanderbilt, including Engineering, Computer Science, Owen (Business), and Peabody (Education), who are contributing to the design and implementation of Institute curriculum.


    Finally, and this is important, we aim to provide practical, concrete tools you can use immediately upon the conclusion of your Immersion experience. Our approach is pragmatic and our work together is about exploring and learning to use the very tools that will enable your work in leading innovation in your organization.

  • Innovation in both how and what we teach, by design.

    The PoLI Institute's curricular content is informed by best practices in innovation across industries, active engagement with “boots on the ground” — those doing innovation across the legal landscape — and with the PoLI Institute Advisors, a diverse group of professionals passionate about innovating law to create access for all.


    We believe experimentation, constant iteration, continuous improvement, and intentional agility are critical to successful innovation in any endeavor, and most certainly as one navigates the complexity of tomorrow’s legal landscape. Tenets of what we teach, these are also tenets of how we teach. So, we are designing a curriculum based on deep research, learning from our users (students), and responding actively to feedback. This means that what we do today may look different in a few months. This is continuous improvement and constant iteration. We will teach by example.


    Most importantly, we seek to create and deliver a curriculum and experience centered on and built for Institute students. The first step in teaching human-centered design? To take a human-centered approach to co-creating what we teach. We take this obligation to teach by doing very seriously. It is at the heart of all we do.

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