Technology has changed modern law practice. Ethics rules obligate lawyers to understand whether, when, and how to use it to deliver services. But most law schools do not incorporate the so-called “Duty of Technology Competence” into the required curriculum. Despite broad calls for legal education to make students more practice-ready, there is no clear path forward for how to weave this valuable professional skill into coursework for all students. This Article supplies one.
The legal practice course should pair technology competence with traditional legal writing and research work. Lawyers do not draft memos or perform legal research or manage caseloads in a vacuum insulated from modern innovation; clients now demand a more efficient and multi-disciplinary approach that often includes technology. Small changes to the traditional legal practice syllabus can create awareness of technology’s impact on everyday lawyering work and provide students hands-on experience with: (1) Legal Document Proficiency; (2) Legal Research Analytics & Document Integration; (3) E-Discovery; (4) Law Practice Technology; and (5) Data Security.
The skills curriculum must mirror expectations for how twenty-first century lawyers perform fundamental tasks, including new ethical challenges they face and opportunities they have to use tools to create efficient and effective work product. Through concrete classroom examples from mobile lawyering to document automation to cloud computing to judicial analytics, as well as “Technology Spotlight Exercises” available in a collaborative online repository, the reader will walk away with strategies for combining “smart” lawyering skills with traditional coursework for every law student.
Citation: O’Leary, Dyane, ‘Smart’ Lawyering: Integrating Technology Competence into the Legal Practice Curriculum (August 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3671632 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3671632
The Law Society of Saskatchewan has released a new episode of its Legal Skies podcast, outlining the ongoing changes to legal education in Canada, as well as the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had and will have on education and training. The podcast features Dr. Kara Mitchelmore of the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED), and features discussion about the new practice readiness education programme, as well as ongoing issues around remote learning and assessment.
Listen to the podcast.
The Candian Bar Association has launched a survey to gather information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young lawyers and students. Anecdotal evidence gathered by the association has suggested that early-career lawyers have been disproportionately adversely affected by the pandemic, finding it difficult to get work experience, find first jobs or articling positions. Many have also raised the issue that they are losing access to valuable learning opportunities through remote working.
The survey has been set up to gather further data around the issue, to allow the association to begin to address the issue.
View the Bar associations comments about the survey.
On April 26-27, 2019, the Duquesne University School of Law hosted a conference titled “Artificial Intelligence: Thinking About Law, Law Practice, and Legal Education.” Over those two days, more than 100 attendees were able to listen to nineteen presentations offered by thirty-one professors, educators, technology experts, and lawyers. The four articles in this symposium issue of the Duquesne Law Review resulted from that conference. All of the presentations from the conference are available on the Duquesne website, at: https://www.duq.edu/academics/schools/law/academics/legal-research-and-writing/2019-artificial-intelligence-conference.
Levine, Jan M., Artificial Intelligence: Thinking About Law, Law Practice, and Legal Education (January 1, 2020). Duquesne University Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 1, 2020, Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2020-06.
Available from the SSRN site.
The Law Society of New South Wales has launched an online mentoring program for over 650 high school students across the state in the wake of ongoing social distancing requirements. The Future Lawyers programme is running over 6 weeks with different topics and lectures being given to students on topics such as an Introduction to Australian Legal Systems, Advocacy, Law Reform, Policy and Ethics, as well as a mock trial. The classes are delivered by practising solicitors, giving students a chance to interact with those in practice gaining first-hand knowledge about the sector.
President of the Law Society of NSW, Richard Harvey, said: “The Future Lawyers Programme provides the year 10 and 11 students with an opportunity to learn from experienced and knowledgeable solicitors within the comfort of their own home. When it became clear that Law Society’s face-to-face Mock Law Programmes would be impacted by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions we moved quickly to create a new online format for high school students. During these uncertain times, it is important to ensure we adapt to our current environment and create new opportunities for students considering a career in the law.”
See the full details of the programme.
Reforms in legal education are taking place in almost all countries. Each system has its own reasons for improving the quality of legal education, though the employment of young lawyers after graduation proves a common problem.
The Concept for the Development of Legal Education in the Republic of Belarus through to 2025, adopted by the Ministry of Education in 2017, partly addresses the problems faced by the contemporary Belarusian legal community. These problems include a lack of practice-oriented courses for students and the need to improve the professional training of teachers.
The main problems facing the modern Belarusian legal education appear to include the excessive teaching load of academics, the lack of practical skills development, bureaucratic mechanisms for attracting foreign funding, insufficient funding for training teachers abroad, weak foreign language skills, and the lack of new education and academic technologies, including access to online databases and virtual learning environments.
Belarus ranks 52nd in the Human Development Index of 188 countries in the UN Development Program, which is one of the highest positions among the countries of eastern Europe. This indicates that Belarus is competitive in the field of education generally. In order to put in place legal education reforms, a wide range of professionals should be involved, as well as more active cooperation with non-governmental educational institutions and universities abroad. This will allow the sharing of best practices in the area of legal education.
Kryvoi, Yarik and Maroz, Raman, Reform of Legal Education in Belarus and the United Kingdom (March 19, 2018). Yarik Kryvoi, Raman Maroz, Reform of legal education in Belarus and the United Kingdom (Ostrogorski Centre, 2018).
Available from the SSRN site.
This is a review of the book What the Best Law Teachers Do. While it focuses on law school teachers, nearly all of the book is applicable to teaching undergraduate business law classes. The book is the result of extensive interviews with teachers and students that identify the top traits and practices of twenty-six of the country’s top law school teachers. This review is divided into praise for and mild criticism of the book. I occasionally mention my personal experience with the book’s topics as pertaining to the business law classroom. The review concludes with an alternative reading suggestion.
Conklin, Michael, Learning from Law Professors: An Analysis of What the Best Law Teachers Do (June 1, 2020).
Available from the SSRN site.
The Bar Standards Board has announced on the 12th May 2020, that the Bar Professional Training Course and Bar Transfer Test assessments, that were delayed from April to August, will be carried out online with the assistance of Pearson’s OnVUE secure global online proctoring solution, which will allow for remote invigilation. Allowing the exams to take place within this timeframe will then allow for students with pupillage offers to take these up in the Autumn, rather than causing further delays.
The BSB has said that the “OnVUE system uses a combination of artificial intelligence and live monitoring to ensure the exam is robustly guarded, deploying sophisticated security features such as face-matching technology, ID verification, session monitoring, browser lockdown and recordings.” However, some criticism has come about suggesting that the system may prejudice students with young children, as the system automatically ends the test if another person is detected in the presence of the examinee.
BSB director-general Mark Neale said: “Since the current health emergency began… students and transferring qualified lawyers have had to face considerable uncertainty, which we very much regret, and I am delighted that we can now deliver centralised assessments remotely in August with Pearson VUE’s state-of-the-art online proctoring system.”
For more information see the full article on the BSB site.
In its latest episode of the ‘Talking Tech’ podcast, the LSB interviews Dr Adam Wyner, Associate Professor of Law and Computer Science at Swansea University. The podcast focuses on how education and regulation might change to ensure legal professionals are better equipped to deal with and meet the challenges posed by a new tech-focused environment, as well as how these individuals can start to drive technological innovation.
Listen to the LSB podcast (42 minutes long) and download the accompanying paper as a PDF.
Ana Maria Martinez, the head of the Georgia Latino Law Foundation, is organising a virtual judicial internship program for second-year law students who have had their summer associate internships cancelled.
The virtual internships with Georgia judges are open to all second-year students, at the state’s ABA-accredited law schools; and the deadline to apply is May 15. The program will last for five weeks and is unpaid, but will give students the experience of working in a judicial office.
Martinez, who is a staff attorney for DeKalb County State Court Judge Dax Lopez said: “It gives law students opportunities to have a substantive summer and feel like their hard work wasn’t wasted this year. It’s a way to expose them to new connections, how the court system works and perhaps a new mentor.”
Law students will be asked to commit to a minimum of 20 hours per week, which will be flexibly arranged around judges’ and attorneys’ schedules. Students will meet with judges or attorneys twice a week via Zoom.
See the full article on Law.com.