Law schools need to wake up to the idea that “we need to transform how we educate the lawyers of tomorrow,” Suffolk Law Dean Camille Nelson writes in an editorial for the ABA Journal.
In an article that attempts to chart a way forward for law schools in a changing marketplace, Nelson writes “we are in the midst of a technological renaissance” and that law “is not immune from technology’s reach.”
“The digital generation is now coming of age and entering the work world, including the legal profession. And what do they find? They find us steeped in tradition and conservative by design,” Nelson says.
But Nelson—who is Suffolk Law’s first female and first black dean— notes that with change comes opportunity.
“To my mind, the confluence of a technological revolution and a crisis in education is ultimately a time of opportunity, if we remain awake,” Nelson writes.
As an example, Nelson points to the launch of Suffolk’s new Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation, which offers programs, courses and lectures about technology’s transformation of the practice of law and the delivery of legal services.
In addition, Suffolk Law offers courses related to law practice technology, including “Lawyering in an Age of Smart Machines,” taught by legal tech pioneer Marc Lauritsen, and “The 21st Century Legal Profession,” by Jordan Furlong. Both classes seek to teach students to use and design technology to make legal practice more efficient and effective. Another Suffolk course offers an ethics simulation in which students operate a virtual law firm and solve problems using a virtual law practice management system.
Nelson notes that tech-savvy law students are more marketable to employers. Again, she points to Suffolk Law’s expanded internship program intended to ensure law students obtain experience in nontraditional legal employment settings, such as electronic discovery and automated document assembly companies.
“There is now a vibrant conversation in the world of practice, in legal academia and administration, and in the legal services industry more generally,” she writes. “It would seem that the “crisis in legal education” has provided just the kick in the pants for much-needed dialogue, exchange, and collaboration. It’s a start—the right start.”