Legal Technology & Innovation: Legal-Service Delivery in the 21st Century
Technology and innovation are rapidly transforming legal-service delivery and what it means to be a lawyer. Law firms face pressure from clients to innovate, embrace technology, and deliver greater value. Corporate legal departments--the primary clients of large law firms--are investing in technology and legal operations, engaging alternative legal-service providers, and increasing their capabilities to deliver legal services internally. Meanwhile, startups are using artificial intelligence to automate tasks previously performed by lawyers, from document review and diligence to more sophisticated work. While the evolution of the legal industry threatens traditional career pathways, it also presents many opportunities.
This course introduces students to the legal technology and innovation knowledge, skills, and theory needed to thrive in law firms, legal departments, government, legal aid organizations, and other legal-service environments. Terms like artificial intelligence, Big Data, design thinking, lean thinking, knowledge management, and project management are frequently used, but what are these disciplines and how do they differ from what savvy legal professionals have been doing for decades? This course explores these topics, beginning with an overview of the evolving legal industry, legal-service delivery models, legal process outsourcing, and legal operations. After establishing a foundation of legal-service delivery knowledge, we will focus on innovation and technology, from basics to document assembly, process automation, expert systems, algorithms, chatbots, machine learning, and other forms of artificial intelligence. We will explore how lawyers engage in substantive practice with these tools, from finding, analyzing, and applying the law to counseling clients and producing outcomes. We will also examine how legal technology and innovation hold great promise for increasing access to legal services. This course will also introduce the regulatory, legal, and ethical issues related to algorithmic decision making, both in society generally and specifically in the delivery of legal services.
Law firm leaders, legal-services experts, technologists, and other experts will join us for discussions and problem-solving exercises. Students are not required to have a background in statistics or technology--this is an introductory course. Students will complete hands-on projects (usually in groups), short papers, and presentations throughout the term. Projects include deconstructing a legal matter and exploring how it can be re-engineered and delivered through a combination of people, process, and technology, not only to provide greater efficiency, but also to improve quality and obtain better substantive outcomes. Upon completing this course, students will have the understanding, knowledge, and skills to actively participate in technology and innovation initiatives in law firms, legal departments, legal aid organizations, and other legal environments.
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