How Melbourne Law School gave students real-life legal innovation skills

Law students increasingly expect legal technology and design to be a part of any world-class legal education.

But how can law schools deliver this? And how can educators equip their students with skills they will use throughout their careers?

 

Problem

Despite its growing relevance to employers, legal innovation and legal technology is often overlooked in law school. As a result, students are entering the workforce without the skills and practical understanding of legal technology expected by their future employers.

Melbourne Law School Associate Professor Gary Cazalet recognised that in the digital age, legal technology will transform the future of work for the next generation of lawyers.

While Melbourne Law School offers courses on legal technology and design, these subjects were often oversubscribed with a waiting list. Gary wanted to give all students the opportunity to take a short extra-curricular course to experience legal tech and design.

Melbourne Law School wanted to:

  • Introduce legal technology and essential legal design principles to students,
  • Provide a safe environment to test and ‘play’ with real legal technologies, without requiring extensive training in technology, and
  • Develop opportunities for students to apply their knowledge, skills and creativity to solve real world legal problems.
“Legal education is no longer just about textbooks and case law. Students need to learn experientially and work collaboratively and creatively.”
– Gary Cazalet, Melbourne Law School Associate Professor

Solution

Josef collaborated with Melbourne Law School, top law firm Maddocks, and digital design agency Portable, to develop the Law Tech Pop Up.

90 students participated in the four week Law Tech Pop Up, learning about legal design, legal logic, and bot-building. Students formed teams and worked together to develop a solution using Josef.

Josef’s user friendly, no-code interface made it possible for students to pick up the technology before the first lesson started, without knowing anything about technology or software development.

Students had fun and put their skills to test, while gaining perspective on how legal innovation works in practice. Teams participated in a friendly competition, with a winner selected from the finished bots.

Josef's impact

Results

Meeting the demand for legal tech

Students flocked to the course as soon as it was available.

“The course was a stunning success. It was a voluntary course, taught on a weekday evening for four weeks. We had 90 students sign up for it within days.” Gary said.

According to Gary, the Pop Up was one of the most popular evening courses the Law School has held highlighting the demand from students for legal technology education.

A thought-provoking and engaging course for students

Students created bots to solve a wide variety of legal problems, from fan-fiction copyright to domestic violence intervention orders.

Students presented their bots to a panel of judges, getting feedback on their idea and bot.

Students presented their bots to a panel of judges, getting feedback on their idea and bot.

Through the Pop Up, students were able to demonstrate creativity, logical thinking, group work, research, data analysis, and presentation skills within the contexts of their legal area of interest.

Comments from students:

“I’m not at all tech savvy, but I learnt that there are more options available than the stereotypical day to day practice of lawyering,” said Eva, a third year JD student.

Students gained real world skills

The Pop Up gave students valuable exposure, bridging theory to practice and bringing students closer to experienced lawyers and real world legal technology.

Lindy Richardson, Partner and Head of Innovation at Maddocks, acknowledged the importance having tech and legal skills that would serve students through their careers:

“I’ve never seen a group of students as engaged and excited about their commitment to technology and the law … developing tech skills in addition to legal skills is going to be essential and it’s going to be increasingly important for students to thrive and have an interesting career,” Lindy said.

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