Zach volunteers that the “typical law student just wants a secure job but has no idea what that actually means; OnRamp grads have far more specific and realistic expectations about what jobs can be.   Classmates would ask me, ‘OK, are you going to look for a real job now?'”

Shanique volunteers that she didn’t expect to stay at OnRamp very long, and in fact got a job offer a few months ago at what she calls a “conventional company” (in-house): She asked how the company planned to grow people over (say) the next five years of their careers “and their answer was disappointing.” She adds a sophisticated observation: “Their environment was far too unstructured, with no way for the company to evaluate recent arrivals vs. longer-term employees.” [Sound familiar?—Bruce.]

As for law schools’ attitude, as recently as nine months to a year ago it was “tons of skepticism; we were very much encouraged to look for more conventional options by Career Services, [but] they’ve all been surprised by how quickly it’s taken off and how fast people are gaining value from it.” That doesn’t mean all schools are embracing it equally. One of them volunteers that at their school “the Dean is forward-looking but there’s a lot of pushback at Career Services; the only route to go is to a law firm.”

At Harvard, according to Zach, the issue is simply that hardly anyone knows about it; “the only people who do are ones I’ve told. But you have to understand the hiring dynamics at Harvard are very different; people aren’t looking outside the traditional model at all. ‘Alternatives’ are things like McKinsey and Citi.”

Could “alternatives” some day—even at empyrean Harvard—include ApprenticeRamp?

I for one am convinced we have to try…different. We have to spawn and spin out theories about ways to make this mismatched and dysfunctional market “clear.” We have to think big, experiment, test, revise, and test again. But mostly we have to start theorizing, and trying.

Paul Lippe:

We started by talking to people outside law—Intel, NASA, the project teams at global banks—and then spent more time listening to those lawyers who talk about what can be done, rather than those who dismiss what can’t. Over the last few months I have been talking to a lot of federal judges about problems of ‘Access to Justice,’ and now we’re beginning to work on applying these approaches to support very large scale clinical collaboration. Although addressing the access to justice challenge won’t require approaches as structured as our contract genome mapping work, it will require scale.

We think we’ve created a better mousetrap for uber-complex projects with iterative information requirements: And we’re betting on the young Rampers to help us improve it.

As the legendary Freeman Dyson recently wrote in The New York Review of Books, reviewing Mario Livio’s Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein—Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe:

Science consists of facts and theories. Facts and theories are born in different ways and are judged by different standards. Facts are supposed to be true or false. They are discovered by observers or experimenters. A scientist who claims to have discovered a fact that turns out to be wrong is judged harshly. One wrong fact is enough to ruin a career.

Theories have an entirely different status. They are free creations of the human mind, intended to describe our understanding of nature. Since our understanding is incomplete, theories are provisional. Theories are tools of understanding, and a tool does not need to be precisely true in order to be useful. Theories are supposed to be more-or-less true, with plenty of room for disagreement. A scientist who invents a theory that turns out to be wrong is judged leniently. Mistakes are tolerated, so long as the culprit is willing to correct them when nature proves them wrong.

ApprenticeRamp may or may not be around for a long time, and whatever happens of one prediction I’m confident: It will continue to evolve and morph. But for my money, it’s the best darned theory I’ve seen out there yet.



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