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F1. Foundations for Practice – What Are the Essential Qualities Needed by a Lawyer Right Out of Law School?

Zack DeMeola
50 Minutes
Audio and Video


As the profession grows more complex and competitive, employers are demanding that new lawyers have all the parts of a "whole lawyer" on day one—not only intelligence and legal skills but also key characteristics and professional competencies to use those skills in practice. Foundations for Practice is a study of more than 24,000 lawyers in 50 states—across practice settings, specialty, and geography—to uncover the essential attributes of success for lawyers as they launch their careers. Some aspects of the first stage of this research, which was spearheaded by Alli Gerkman, was presented at ACLEA Savannah in 2016. IAALS will soon be releasing some of the results of a new phase for the project, which includes organized guidance on how these Foundations can be used to improve legal education and hiring outcomes, including model learning outcomes and assessment tools for educators and students and hiring rubrics for employers.



Zack DeMeola's Profile

Zack DeMeola Related seminars and products

Manager, Foundations for Practice project

Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), University of Denver

As Director of Legal Education and the Legal Profession at IAALS, Zack DeMeola’s focus is on improving the delivery of legal services through a variety of projects that deal with the regulation of legal services, legal education, and the intersection of law and technology. DeMeola primarily manages the Unlocking Legal Regulation project, which is promoting a regulatory system better equipped to meet the needs of everyday people and to provide more sustainable practice for lawyers, and the Foundations for Practice project, which is identifying the foundations entry-level lawyers need to practice and steering legal education toward that end. DeMeola’s work includes national outreach and advocacy through facilitating collaboration among experts and stakeholders; presenting on IAALS findings and projects; conducting factual, legal, and empirical research and analysis; drafting project papers and articles; and contributing to the development and promotion of recommendations in these areas. DeMeola joined IAALS in 2017 after having litigated in private practice for six years. He began his legal career in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Privacy, and Social Media law groups of Mayer Brown LLP in Los Angeles, where he also served on the summer associate committee. Prior to joining IAALS, DeMeola was an associate at Baker Hostetler LLP’s Denver office, where he focused his practice on data breach and privacy issues, class action litigation defense, and complex commercial matters. DeMeola was also dedicated to pro bono work in his legal practice, and twice received awards from Mayer Brown for meeting the law firm’s Pro Bono Challenge by billing well over 60 hours a year to pro bono services. His pro bono activities included working with the Alliance for Children’s Rights to represent families at adoption hearings in Los Angeles and working alongside the ACLU in Colorado to reach a favorable settlement on behalf of two women who were wrongfully arrested and prosecuted for crimes they did not commit. In 2015, Colorado Law Weekly recognized DeMeola as one of seven Colorado “up and coming lawyers.” DeMeola graduated from William & Mary School of Law in 2010, where he received the George Wythe and Ewell Awards for leadership and service. DeMeola also obtained a master’s degree in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, and received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. 

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