Richard Susskind, “legal futurist” and best-selling author of The End of Lawyers?, will speak at the inaugural program of Suffolk University Law School’s Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation, which studies how technology is revolutionizing the practice of law even while it creates both opportunities and challenges for lawyers in every practice setting.

The institute, as part of an educational effort that includes public lectures, courses and programs, has invited Susskind to explore his argument that the legal marketplace is unlikely to tolerate expensive lawyers for tasks that can be better discharged with the support of modern systems and techniques. This projected market pull towards online, low-cost legal services may well erode or displace lawyers’ jobs, according to Susskind. He foresees a new and highly rewarding type of practice emerging for entrepreneurial lawyers.

Susskind will appear as the guest of the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St., Boston.

A panel of experts will join Susskind for Tomorrow’s Lawyers, offering their own insights and perspectives on the ways in which lawyers can and should respond to the rapid pace of technological change.

Panelists

  • Regina Pisa, partner and chair of Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Krish Gupta, senior vice president and deputy general counsel at EMC Corporation
  • Jordan Furlong, partner at Edge International and publisher of Law21.

Suffolk Law Professor Andrew Perlman, director of the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation, will moderate the program. He also serves as the chief reporter for the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which is reviewing rules of professional conduct in light of technological advances and globalization of legal practice.

“Many law schools, including Suffolk, are looking at technology and intellectual property, but very few are looking at the intersection of technology and innovation in law practice,” said Perlman. “This institute will be a leading source of information about the many ways that technology is transforming the legal marketplace and the legal profession.”

Suffolk Law students already are engaged in this new kind of legal practice, and student Kimberly McGinn developed a user-friendly app that was adopted by Nebraska Legal Aid.

Her inspiration came through Marc Lauritsen’s Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines course, which is hands-on and skill-focused. When each student was required to write a computer application, McGinn developed a program that leads parents step-by-step in the pro se creation of a legal parenting plan document.

McGinn believes that the skills and insights from the class will give her a competitive edge when she graduates. She already has employed her newfound knowledge in her paralegal job at State Street Bank, where she built a time- and paper-saving program for a Commodity Future Trading Commission filing.

The Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation aims to develop additional courses spurring students to learn how to use technology to deliver legal services more efficiently and effectively.

“The new Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation has been formed as Suffolk University Law School rededicates itself to its student-centered mission of preparing ethical and practice-ready lawyers with a strong commitment to the legal profession, public service and the community,” said Law School Dean Camille Nelson. “The Institute is but one aspect of how Suffolk Law embraces innovation and change while maintaining its reputation as ‘The Lawyers’ Law School.’”

As part of this renewed focus on practical employment skills, Suffolk Law also is introducing an academic concentration in Labor and Employment law, which is an area of renewed importance in law practice and placement, according to Nelson. And it is expanding its entrepreneurial and skills-based courses. A Transactional Skills program, for example, will better prepare students who are interested in business law. Students also gain experience through nationally recognized clinical programs and domestic and international internships.

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