American Bar Association’s artificial intelligence task force releases law school survey

A recent survey conducted by the American Bar Association (ABA) and its Task Force on Law and Artificial Intelligence reveals that a significant number of law schools are actively incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) technologies into their curricula. The survey, which included 29 law schools, found that 55% of these institutions now offer AI-specific classes, and 62% introduce these tech-focused classes in the first year of law school.

Additionally, 83% of the surveyed law schools provide clinics, intensives, and other practical opportunities for students to engage with AI technology, often in collaboration with other academic departments such as engineering, computer science, and data science. For instance, the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law offers AI classes and certificate programmes, emphasising AI’s role in legal operations, privacy, and ethics. These offerings are designed to prepare students for the evolving demands of the legal field, where familiarity with AI is increasingly becoming a critical skill.

Despite the widespread integration of AI in legal education, the survey also highlighted a general uncertainty among law schools regarding specific AI policies, particularly in how AI should be applied and monitored within academic settings. For example, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law has policies restricting students’ use of generative AI in creating content for submissions, although instructors may permit AI use under certain conditions.

The survey indicates that 85% of the law schools are considering further changes to their curricula to include more extensive AI education. This shift is in response to the growing demand from law firms and other legal employers for new lawyers who are adept at using AI tools in their practice. This trend is expected to intensify, with predictions suggesting that within five years, the ability to utilise AI will be essential for successful legal practice. However, the challenge remains for law schools to develop clear policies and guidelines to navigate the integration of AI in legal education effectively.

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