Suffolk University Law School Professor Gabriel Teninbaum and Adjunct Professor David Colarusso have been named to the 2016 Fastcase 50—an honor reserved for the nation’s “smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law.” Colarusso was also recently named one of ten Legal Rebels by the ABA Journal.
Teninbaum is director of the Legal Technology and Innovation Concentration (LTIC) and the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation (LPTI). Colarusso teaches Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines.
Access to justice
Teninbaum’s approach to legal technology drew the attention of Fastcase at least in part because of his focus on access to justice.
“Middle-class and moderate-income households deserve to receive the same quality of legal services and products as any Fortune 500 company,” he says. “Our students aren’t just learning how to deliver low-priced legal services through technology; they’re also using innovative approaches to help ensure that the more accessible services are just as reliable and useful as high-priced services.”
Under Teninbaum’s leadership, the Law School’s innovation institute received the 2016 Pro Bono Innovator of the Year Award from Legaltech News. The school’s legal technology programs have been ranked in the top 10 in the ABA’s Law Practice magazine.
Problem solving through data dives
Colarusso’s Legal Rebels profile in the ABA Journal notes: “Colarusso, 37, is a hacker. He’s happiest when doing a deep dive into an information system, finding problems and creating fixes. He did just that in the wake of the state drug lab scandal in which a chemist had falsified tests of drug samples, tagging them positive, in tens of thousands of cases. … In 2014 the CPCS put Colarusso on temporary duty to sort through the mess and determine how many defendants were affected.”
Colarusso joined the Suffolk Law faculty in the fall of 2016 as an adjunct professor, teaching students basic coding, document automation, and the use of expert systems to solve legal problems.
Legal services prophet
In its 2015 profile of Dean Perlman, Fastcase wrote: “It’s no wonder that Andy is invited to be a central part of every conversation about the future of legal services. He is the vice chair of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, and he served as chief reporter of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, among many other committees related to the future of law.”
Intersection of law and IT
Current courses at Suffolk Law offer students the opportunity to automate documents, build expert systems, improve legal processes, create websites, share code on software building hubs, and handle other tech tools.
The law school’s Accelerator-to-Practice Program recently received the Louis M. Brown Award, the American Bar Association’s top honor for innovators in the provision of legal services to average income Americans. The Accelerator provides a hybrid curriculum that trains students to run a small firm for moderate income clients—using legal technology and process improvements to reduce costs.
The first two years of the program focus on developing the technical skills needed for today’s technology landscape. The final year seeks to put all students’ abilities and acumen to use in the real world in an on-campus practice.
“Law firms don’t typically have personnel who can wear both the lawyer hat and the IT hat,” says Teninbaum. “Suffolk Law is changing that by training our students to use high tech tools that make lawyering more efficient and therefore reduce costs per client.”