As advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, and other technology, are playing a bigger role in the practice of law, the question now is how to incorporate them into law school curriculums.
New technologies are forcing innovation within law schools, developing perspectives, programs, research, and theories to prepare students to incorporate technology into their practices. The newly launched Campbell Law School Innovation Institute will conduct research and promote models for the ethical applications of technology within the legal sector, business, and government.
“The legal profession is at the forefront of this transformation since technology is disrupting the ways that firms and organizations deliver legal services, and for good reason,” said Campbell Law Professor Kevin Lee, the institute’s founding director. “What has historically been a siloed, proprietary method of providing legal services is giving way to a new, increasingly flexible, commoditized, and interdisciplinary approach that is forcing lawyers to rethink the ways they approach legal problems.”
“The institute will generate knowledge about how advanced information technology is changing the nature and practice of law and the moral and legal issues concerning its responsible development. We are launching at a time that is particularly ripe for innovation,” explained Lee.
“The next five to ten years will bring substantial changes as the impact of AI extends throughout society and transforms it. There are tremendous opportunities and risks right now. The institute will contribute to understanding and educating in these areas of profound change.”
Balance of Law and Technology
“The institute’s immediate goal is to address a problem facing legal educators – the need to maintain a focus on teaching substantive law and practical skills while responding to the rapidly growing need to respond to the changes brought about by the new technologies,” said Lee.
In the short term, the institute will be developing classes in AI for lawyers and business intelligence for lawyers, and add them to the existing courses in computational law, law and technology, and design for lawyers. It will also be developing CLEs on these topics and some online classes to test the concept of online legal technology education in a new virtual marketplace.”
Impact on Clients
“The immediate impact for clients will be the benefits of having more efficient and capable lawyers. This means lower cost, better quality work, and more predictable and communicative lawyers. In the long run, though, avoidance of legal disputes, alternative providers of legal services (accounting practices for example), and more reliable outcomes are the goal,” said Lee.
“Well-designed legal technology can support better lawyering, but it does not lead to improved lawyers or an improved society as a matter of logical necessity. Decisions will need to be made about how AI is implemented. It’s a complex technology that defies simple analysis.
“It has impacts beyond the intended users and consequences that can be unpredictable,” Lee added. “It is of vital concern that we educate our students—all of them, not just law students—to understand AI and the ethical issues that it poses. This includes questions of human rights and equality. But it also includes thinking carefully about the kind of values that come with the technology. We should be asking questions like: ‘Does AI strengthen or weaken the rule of law? How is it changing democracy? Does it make us kinder? More sensitive to the needs of others? And, ultimately, what does the development of thinking machines tell us about being human?’
“We need to teach students how to ask and answers these questions. AI is not simply a convenience, like email. It is transformational of human self-understanding. And it will bring sweeping changes over time.”