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Law with Legal Innovation and Technology: Teaching tomorrow’s lawyers

Huge advances in automation and Artificial Intelligence mean that, in the never-ending quest for efficiency, lawyers and law firms are investing heavily in technology.

For the lawyers of the future, legal work isn’t going to be all books and research. It’s expected that eventually lawyers will even need at least a basic understanding of coding. And that’s where The University of Law’s LLB (Hons) Law with Legal Innovation and Technology comes in; a new course lead by ULTRA Project Director Patrick Grant which aims to bridge the gap between law and technology. We caught up with Patrick to find out more about this interesting new course.

The LLB in Law with Legal Innovation and Technology is a new offering for students with an interest in new technologies and the future of the legal profession. The course is a build on our law degree, so it still covers everything that’s necessary for a Qualifying Law Degree, but it also offers insights into new business methods, new technologies, marketing, process analysis and much more.

We’re already seeing big changes both in and outside legal firms, and that’s only going to continue. Outside of the traditional law firms, innovators are finding more and more ways to disrupt the market and simplify basic legal problems with new technologies. New companies offering services such as online wills and automated contracts mean that there are more options available to clients than just going to see their lawyer. Within firms, the changes that technology is making in the profession has revealed new career paths too. In addition to an understanding of the “nuts and bolts” of new technology there is a growing demand for Legal Engineers and Legal Technologists who can practically apply tech to legal problems.

Legal Engineers assist clients by examining their business and creating innovative methods of automating their legal needs. Legal Technologists work with IT departments and lawyers to look at improving processes or creating new software to make services more efficient and more client-focused.

Clients expect lawyers to have an understanding of their business, including their products or services, and to be proactive with advice. Law firms are looking for students who are comfortable with modern technology and have an eye for new business. That’s where this course comes in; it’s aimed to assist those entering the legal profession to hit the ground running. There are also a growing number of Legal Innovators who do not work within law firms, but are disrupting the market with web services that assist with claiming compensation, appealing parking tickets and even preparing small claims.

This programme differs from your standard Qualifying Law Degree. Sure, it teaches you the critical knowledge and skills required for a QLD, but it also offers you the chance to experiment and innovate with a selection of hands-on, practical and fun modules. These modules are designed to offer an understanding of new areas of the law, new ways of providing legal assistance and advice, and an array of contemporary skills that can be used in almost any job.

There are a set of key modules that focus on innovation and tech. Students will start the course with a module on Legal Innovation and Technology, giving them an introduction to the very basics of both areas. The module looks at real life examples of successful innovators and offers an insight into how they achieved their goals. It also offers hands-on experience in new technologies and culminates in a two-part session on how to train a bot.

The Legal Practice in the 21st Century module offers students an opportunity to learn about new skills, such as design thinking, project management and process analysis. It also offers valuable insights into how law firms work traditionally and how we anticipate them operating in the future.

In the second year modules students will be introduced to new areas such as the blockchain, AI, automation and the future of legal services. Students will learn the lifecycle of a start-up, how data works and how to protect it, before learning to design their own basic app. All the modules will also explore the ethical issues of new technologies and new ways to practise law to ensure a well-rounded and sensible approach to future of legal services.

At ULaw we are committed to ensuring we offer courses that align with the needs of employers and give our students the skills to achieve their career ambitions. We want to respond to the demand in the market place for new lawyers who are excited by the advancements in tech, looking to innovate and improve services and – most of all – to offer clients the best possible legal assistance. It offers those who want to work in new roles the opportunity to understand the basics of new technologies and those keen to go into law firms a better understanding of the legal services marketplace, including where it might be heading. It also offers those who may be unsure about a career in law the opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge that can be used in almost any job.

Students will get hands-on experience using and working with the more popular packages, such as Contract Express but will also learn about how AI works, how to analyse processes and simplify them and how new businesses are modelled to operate with these technologies.

One of the great perks of studying this course is the opportunity to play with new software and hardware. Students get to hear from industry professionals and to learn how to build a brand, a start-up, and to market it. They’ll also have the chance to learn how to use the programs that law firms and legal practitioners are currently using, which will certainly give them something to discuss in interviews. We want to make our students feel confident in understanding where the profession is headed and how they will fit into it, whether it be as a traditional lawyer or as a Legal Engineer or Technologist.

The best advice I can offer students interested in this course is to do some initial research and reading. I’d recommend Richard Susskind’s book ‘Tomorrow’s Lawyers’ as a good place to start. Set your Twitter feed to follow innovators and influencers such as Josh Browder, of DoNotPay fame, and Chrissie Lightfoot, the ‘Naked Lawyer’. Scour YouTube for examples of advances in the ways clients can access legal advice and assistance too.

If the world of legal technology fascinates you, why not come along to the launch of our Moorgate Campus’s Legal Tech Hub at our LawTech Fair on 26 March 2019?

You can also check out more about our undergraduate Legal Innovation and Technology course on our website.