BlogLegal ResourcesThe Future of Legal Education: LegalTech in University Curriculums

August 25, 20210

The Rise of Technology

There have been many technological inventions in recent years. We can mention the invention of the Internet, the evolution of electronic devices from laptops to mini laptops, to tablets and smartphones. In terms of the legal field, the automation systems of law firms, electronic storage, and the use of digital communication tools such as emails, SMS and online conferencing have become popular. 

Today’s lawyers are implementing “paperless offices” and “cloud” based practice management systems by developing virtual legal practice and facilitating procedures through online legal document preparation services such as “Legit”

Despite this technological development, the question arises: Do academics today view technology as a way for students to excel in law? 

In fact, the data so far show that many law school professors consider technology only as a way to achieve traditional educational objectives, but this does not make us pessimistic about the adaptations of law and educational curricula to technology.

 

Legal Technology: Admission to Legal Education

Legal technology is the application of new technologies in the world of law, in order to perform tasks that are usually performed by lawyers or the staff in a legal office by software algorithms. It is considered as a subfield of legal informatics, ie as:

  • The study of the structure and properties of information,
  • The application of technology in the organization, storage, retrieval of information and,
  • use of information in legal settings such as law firms, courts and law schools.

 

Good technological knowledge is considered an advantage for lawyers today and new graduates who will possess such knowledge are expected to be highly sought after and have an advantage in the job market. Also technology companies serving the law industry are looking to hire graduate lawyers who possess technological skills.

In 2014, a survey was conducted in which 2,251 academics participated. The survey raised the question of whether online classes can achieve learning outcomes that are similar to those achieved in classrooms in the auditorium. Overall, 62% of academics disagreed, despite the fact that many of them had given online lectures before. This showed, among other things, that law academies were skeptical of the inclusion of technology in the legal field.

That same year, only a small number of universities in the UK offered elective courses in technology in legal practice. Courses dealing with issues of internet jurisdiction, privacy in the digital age, cybercrime, and other issues were topics that were in high demand to be taught in universities. Meanwhile, technology courses for lawyers were scarce. Exceptions were some universities that offered in their curricula, subjects are: 

  • Technological Innovation and Legal Practice (Georgetown University)
  • Legal Technology and Informatics (Stanford University)
  • Advocacy in the Age of Smart Machines (Suffolk University)
  • Introducing Technology in Legal Offices (Duke University)
  • Digital Intellectual Property and Legal Technology (University of Swansea)
  • Law on National Security (Trinity College)
  • Digital Government (Leiden University)

 

A Step Towards Technology in Law Faculties

There is no doubt that legal education has changed with the advent of technological informatics. Such is observed in the creation of new classes and the reorganization of old classes. The curriculum includes the classic law courses and those that are considered essential, but also such courses that teach students how new technologies affect law. However, many of these courses remain optional for most students. Universities in the UK have been criticized for having few digital literacy policies, unlike Australia. In addition to legal research and information retrieval tools, many universities have limited access to technologies that are changing legal practice.

However, there are universities that are moving forward by promoting the use of more technology in their curricula by reorganizing the university towards law topics and new technologies. In Australia, the New South Wales Law Society has taken the initiative to introduce students to the use of new technologies such as data analysis through predictive coding to detect or resolve disputes. Students should be able to use technology in their future careers and provide the most efficient help and services to their clients who may need these services. Being well versed in technology and having technological practical skills is important for students of the new generation of legal professionals.

 

The Importance of Legal Technology Education after the Pandemic

The pandemic contributed to many law academics realizing the importance of technology in the field of law. April Dawson, a professor at the Central University of North Carolina School of Law, said that the pandemic has increased the importance of legal technology education because during the pandemic not only schools but also law firms, courts and everyone else in the legal profession depended on the use of technology.

However, while distance learning classes will be scarce, the importance of technology-oriented corporate law departments will push law schools to equip students with legal technology knowledge. These classes will focus on practice issues and customer relations. Alice Armitage, professor and director of innovation application at the University of California and Hastings College of Law, says students are interested not only in classes on how to start a law firm but also in legal informatics, legal operations (legal ops), and the impact that legal technology has. There is more interest in legal ops and access to justice than in practice in law firms. It is important for students to find employment opportunities when they graduate, and therefore universities will continue to add legal technology courses to their curricula.

Unfortunately, such developments do not exist in any of the higher education institutions in Albania and Kosovo. Pandemic and post-pandemic developments should serve as alarm bells for educational institutions that are educating the new generation of law professionals. If you know any, please write to us at info@legit.al. 

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