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Celebrating innovative law teachers—Teaching Law with Technology Prize 2020

Kirsten Maslen

12 Dec 2019

Thomson Reuters is delighted to be sponsoring the Teaching Law with Technology Prize for 2020. The prize celebrates innovation and creativity in bringing technology to the classroom.

As with previous years—the anticipation is that a fantastic array of apps, games and visualisation tools, as well as practice-based software will be used to effectively to impart legal knowledge and skills have been presented to delegates at the Association of Law Teachers (ALT) annual conference.

The changing lawyers’ skillset

Increasingly legal content and software businesses are serving the needs of the legal services market—from courts to law firms, corporates, in-house legal teams, government and the wider public sector—to the bar and academia. Each day our understanding of the impact of technology on law is progressively more crucial to the successful delivery of legal services.

Technology is exponentially impacting clients’ businesses and government operations. Likewise, it is also impacting law—from online dispute resolution to initiatives to improve access to justice—through automation and use of data by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The lawyers of the future will need to be adaptable and open to engaging with AI enhanced tools that maximise their clients’ understanding of the legal options before them. A lawyer cannot call themselves commercial aware without understanding how technology can be used to provide a better legal service to their clients.

In October, the Legal Executive Institute published ‘Adapting for 21st century success: the delta lawyer competency model’. The Delta Model draws on research conducted with clients and law firm hiring managers and emphasises the need for strong personal effectiveness and business and operations skills—as well as knowledge and application of the law. Moreover, the report indicates that understanding technology and knowing when and how to use it forms a core business skill.

The rise of legal services specialists

But it’s not only about the lawyers. Personal effectiveness, business and tech skills are necessary in almost every sphere. In the legal context, the Delta Model research shows how it can be applied to allied professional career paths within the legal services market. New roles in law firms grew rapidly last year. According to PwC Annual Law Firms’ Survey 2019, there has been a big increase in the top 100 firms employing specialists in pricing (up 16 percent), legal project management (up 19 percent) and innovation and strategy (up 20 percent) since the previous year.

Student perspective and role of legal educators

Last year we conducted a survey of law students and found that despite the belief that technology will have an important impact on their future careers, only 30 percent of students felt the technology skills were fully offered by their course. A further 30 percent feeling that their course did not offer the opportunity to develop any technology skills.

Despite this skills gap, there is a serious question about how far many business skills—including engaging with workplace technology—can be taught effectively outside of a workplace environment, and whether it is the role of legal educators to do so. The qualifying law degree programmes and Legal Practice Course offerings curriculum has many facets. Nevertheless, whether they are focused on employability skills or to foster greater student engagement and attainment, some law schools and universities are responding to this swiftly changing landscape to introduce some exciting new courses and using new approaches to pedagogy. By using technology to teach and embed knowledge of the law, or to develop legal and other skills, such as designing tech-based solutions to access to justice use cases and running law clinics using legal practice software—legal education aims to keep up with technological changes in teaching and the practice of law.

The Teaching Law with Technology Prize

Thomson Reuters supports academic institutions in their efforts to empower the lawyers of tomorrow to embark on careers in legal and professional services with confidence and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Nominations for the Teaching Law with Technology Prize are now open and will close on 31 January 2020. Applicants are asked to provide a summary of their project:

  • how it has enhanced learning;
  • improved student engagement and performance;
  • advanced practice legal skills; or,
  • otherwise promoted technology within the department or in the context of a research study.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to present their projects at the ALT Conference 2020 on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 April 2020 at Stirling University in Scotland.

The winner will receive £2000 and the opportunity to visit Thomson Reuters Labs, in London where our global team of data scientists, research scientists, full stack developers and designers unlock the potential value of data and apply cutting-edge technologies to design solutions to challenges faced by legal and other professionals.

To learn more about the Teaching Law with Technology Prize for 2020, click here.

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