The fast-growing world of legal technology has now lead to another, inevitable listing – the best law school (in the US at least) that can prepare lawyers for the future of law.
As law technology expands across all areas of law practice and also helps bridge the justice gap with new applications, so too is the increased emphasis upon those providing legal tech education.
The law school rankings have been made by PreLaw Magazine (Fall 2018). which has attempted to examine which university law school provides the best job preparing its legal students for the future in law, including through offerings from labs, clinics and certificate programs
The PreLaw ranking winner was Suffolk University Law School.
The magazine’s law school listings included 30 schools in its ranking, with University of California-Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia all placing in the top 20.
Unsurprisingly, most of the schools were in the tech-heavy areas of Silicon Valley, Boston and New York.
After Suffolk came UC Berkeley, Arizona State, Santa Clara Law and the University of Colorado.
Harvard came in at #11 and Stanford at #19, among the Ivy League schools.
“To be selected first among so many outstanding peers is a real honor,” said Suffolk Law’s Dean Andrew Perlman, who founded the school’s legal technology program before becoming dean. “It’s terrific to see the hard work of our students and faculty highlighted.”
The Suffolk School set up its Legal Innovation & Technology Lab in 2017-18 and has worked on such projects as creating legal technology and data solutions applications for groups like courts, legal aid groups, law firms and non profits.
Innovative Legal Education
In a PreLaw article earlier this year, “How Suffolk Law is redefining practice-ready,” Associate Editor Tyler Roberts called Suffolk Law “one of the most innovative forces in legal education.” It may be cliché to say that your school “produces practice-ready lawyers,” Roberts writes, “but the folks at Suffolk University Law School are redefining what that term means in the 21st century.”
A case in point is Gerald Glover III JD (above) who has a title few lawyers would be familiar with: ‘legal solutions architect’.
So what is that, exactly? Glover has described his role to PreLaw as being geared towards creating innovative business solutions for clients, with his work falling within project management, process improvement, staffing resources and data visualization.
Not the sort of thing most lawyers might be familiar with, certainly.
The magazine also spoke to David Colarusso, director of the school’s LIT Lab, who teaches a course on lawyering in the age of smart machines and who said that students in the lab create legal-technology and data-science solutions for clients such as legal aid groups, courts, law firms and nonprofits.
“Our projects have ranged from the creation of expert systems/guided interviews (chatbots) to the training of algorithms to replicate existing human decisions,” Colarusso said. “We worked with a personal injury law firm to train an algorithm to help them figure out if would-be clients were a good fit for the firm based on historic data.”
The magazine calls Dean Perlman one of the country’s first advocates “for more legal technology education in law schools.”
“It’s not about students learning how to use a specific piece of software,” Perlman told PreLaw’s Sherry Karabin. “We are teaching a new kind of issue spotting. We want our students to be able to identify when a legal service is being delivered inefficiently and to know that there are tools and methods that can improve quality and reduce prices.”
Karabin writes that Suffolk offers students the chance to build expert systems, automate documents, and consider new business models for legal work, with electives such as Design Thinking for Legal Professionals and Coding the Law.
Suffolk Law Professor Gabe Teninbaum, director of the school’s Legal Innovation & Technology Institute notes in the article that Suffolk’s students take on externships in innovative legal work environments as one of their concentration requirements, “applying what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world.”
The ABA Journal last year named Teninbaum and Colarusso to its Web 100 list of innovative leaders. The publication called Teninbaum, who directs both the Legal Innovation & Technology Institute and Concentration, “perhaps the most tech-savvy law professor in the country.”
The growing area of law technology education is certainly seeing more law schools develop their programs with AbovetheLaw reporting in October on
the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, lead now by Judge Gail Prudenti, former Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of New York State.
She has identified legal technology education as one of her key priorities for future growth.
Judge Gail Prudenti
“I’m a true believer, I have seen, up close and personal, how technology has changed the legal marketplace and the practice of law — in the private sector, in the public sector, and in the courtroom.”
The growth in legal tech generally is continuous and developing weekly, but the growth of educational institutions that provide legal tech education for the new age of tech savvy lawyers has also dawned and others will be anxious to join Suffolk’s leadership position in the area.