How are law schools preparing students for the technologically advancing future of work?

The Lawyering in a Digital Age: Equipping students for the technologically advancing practice of law conference is hosted at University of Cumbria (Ambleside campus). Much gratitude is forwarded to Legal Education Research Network (LERN) for sponsoring the event, and special thanks to Society of Legal Scholars, Association of Law Teachers, British and Irish Legal Education and Technology Association and Society of Computers and Law for promoting this event collectively.

Context of Lawyering in a Digital age

Law schools are operating in a time of accelerated pace of change. Our HMCTS’s court services of England and Wales has invested in a six-year £1bn project to modernise and digitalise aspects of the services offered by the courts. Our professional practices have embraced automation and algorithmic decision-making in law enforcement, offer of legal services and pilots in the administration of justice. New ways of working offer us an opportunity to reflect on what it is required from a modern law school that is future-facing. Presentations relate to both the creative and evidenced-based approach to using technology to deliver legal education as well as the teaching of technology as a legal subject in preparing students for a technologically-advancing legal practice or any other professional practice.

This conference brings together academics, lawyers, computer scientists and law students from the England, Scotland, Ireland, Poland and Australia to present and discuss how technology affords us the opportunity to innovate and prepare ourselves and our students to become future-ready for a wide range of professions. In particular the focus of this event on ‘the digital age’ is for us to come together to discuss and understand some of the complex and disruptive changes brought about by technologically-mediated practices and to discuss the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes for legal practice in the future. Presentations will address how technology can be used to enhance the design and delivery of the law curriculum such as through virtual law clinics and also address the need for the curriculum to be developed to prepare students for the use of technology in the work environment (with a focus on legal practice).

Taking place at the end of each day of the conference is time set aside for us to collectively reflect, debate and discuss some of the bigger questions facing law schools:

  • To what extent can and should legal education attempt to equip students for the changing practice of law?
  • Is our current legal education fit for purpose?
  • If we were to start afresh, what will the purpose of legal education be?
  • To what extent is our professional regulations for legal education keeping up with influence of technology in practice

The event is a fantastic opportunity for law academics, law practitioners and professional regulators including legal practitioners, law enforcement officers, officers of the courts, community legal centres, law firms and legal departments to join computer scientists to discuss the necessary features of a modern legal education, its purpose and values and how new opportunities can be introduced to enhance learning and prepare students for the digital nature of legal practice.