11/2017 & 11/2019 Data Prototype – Methodology Below
Accelerate legal-service delivery innovation and technology adoption across the legal industry.
- Lawyers and other professionals leveraging people, process, data, and technology to improve legal-service delivery for everyone, from legal aid organizations, courts, and the consumer market to law firms and corporate legal departments.
- Lawyers leading and contributing to multidisciplinary teams both solving “wicked” problems and seizing endless opportunities, including those presented by technological advancement.
- Lawyers leading to preserve and expand the rule of law around the globe.
- All people everywhere having 100% access to the law.
- All people everywhere having 100% access to legal services.
- Law schools preparing law students for long-term career success, not just their first job out of law school.
- Create a measure of the extent to which each of the 200+ U.S. law schools prepare students to deliver legal services in the 21st century.
- Create a taxonomy of law school legal-service delivery innovation and technology programs.
- Differentiate between programs and courses focused on “legal-service delivery innovation and technology” and those focused on the intersection of law and technology (e.g., “law and [technology] courses”).
- Raise public awareness of law schools that are educating students about legal-service delivery innovation and technology, including awareness among employers, prospective and current law students, and alumni.
- Raise prospective and current law students’ awareness of the disciplines and skills needed to be successful in the 21st century.
Scope – 11/02/2017 Prototype
This prototype highlights 40 law school legal-service delivery innovation and technology programs of which we are aware as of October 31, 2017. We compiled this list from the resources below and our knowledge of the market. In this prototype, we endeavored to build a framework for the index so that we can receive feedback before we undertake adding each of the 200+ U.S. law schools.
Daniel W. Linna Jr., Law Professor & Director of LegalRnD
Jordan Galvin, LegalRnD Innovation Counsel
Biographical information is available on the Team page.
Updates to the Index
Even with our limited scope, we’ve surely missed some law schools that could have been included in this prototype. Additionally, we’ve only looked for information in course descriptions and on law school websites. Therefore, law schools received credit for the things they’ve described in those places (and which we could find). While we could look at syllabuses and interview faculty, another goal of this project is to encourage law schools not only to teach legal-service delivery innovation and technology disciplines but also to improve their marketing, including by using industry recognized terminology in their course descriptions.
Again, we’ve compiled this list based on the resources below and our knowledge of the market. We did not undertake searches that could have uncovered law schools that might have one or more classes, a clinic, a center, or another program. We intend to perform such searches and complete a comprehensive review of all law schools in a later phase of this project.
In the meantime, if you believe that your law school merits recognition in this prototype, please click on the “Submit Your Law School’s Innovation” button at the bottom of this page to submit supporting information. Likewise, if we’ve listed your law school but lack information that merits inclusion based on the methodology below, please follow the same process to submit that information.
Introduction & Methodology
Our mission is to accelerate legal-service delivery innovation and technology adoption across the legal industry. As discussed in the Overview section of this site, Jim Sandman, Legal Services Corporation president, has suggested that the legal industry rank law firms based on technology adoption. In response to Jim’s call to action, I launched the Legal Services Innovation Index, creating 1) a catalog of law firm innovations and 2) an index of law firm innovation based on searches of law firms’ websites. Given law schools’ foundational role in the legal ecosystem, we must also expect law schools to evolve if we hope to move the legal profession forward.
Law schools have earned the criticism they face for failing to update their curricula and failing to prepare students for 21st-century practice. That said, it’s time to move beyond generalizations and broad rebukes, which fail to recognize a contingent of law schools that have undertaken significant efforts to align law school education with the knowledge and competencies that students need for long-term career success.
At the same time, we need to take a closer look at what it means to be an “innovative” law school. Some law schools offer a robust curriculum of “legal service delivery innovation and technology” courses supplemented by “law and [technology]” courses. Other schools hailed as “innovative” might offer only one “law and [technology]” class, such as “Law and Entrepreneurship.” “Law and [technology]” courses are a welcome addition to the law school curriculum, but these classes do not replace the need for teaching law students about legal-service delivery innovation and technology.
In this prototype, we begin with the premise that law schools must teach students about legal-service delivery innovation and technology. We distinguish between the study of legal-service delivery innovation and technology (i.e., innovation and technology applied to improve legal-service delivery), on the one hand, and the study of law where it intersects with technology (i.e., law applied to technology, what we call “law and [technology]” courses), on the other hand.
To make this prototype list, a school must offer a course with instruction in at least one of the legal-service delivery disciplines identified below. We includes some schools on this list because they had been previously identified as innovative, but in our review we found only “Law and [Technology]” courses. Nevertheless, we kept them on the list for this prototype. We have also attempted to identify “law and [technology]” courses taught at each of these law schools, recognizing that they are valuable additions to law schools curricula.
This project is intended to describe and measure the legal-service delivery disciplines that law schools are teaching today. But this measure should not be used to rank law schools except in very generalized terms, such as to distinguish between those that are doing nothing, those doing something, and those that have made legal-service delivery innovation and technology a priority. Particularly with respect to those schools doing a lot in this space, there is no basis at this point for suggesting that one law school ticking nine of ten boxes is superior to one ticking six of ten, for example. Among other things, our measures do not currently assess the depth of instruction in each of these areas. Additionally, we need more research on outcomes to help us assign weights to these disciplines and consider additions and deletions to our list.
Finally, we do not want to imply that every law school should look the same. Generally speaking, a problem with both the AmLaw 200 and the 200+ law schools is that the vast majority of them are trying to be all things to all customers. As a result, most of them look very much the same to their customers. If law schools sought out and acted on feedback from their target customers–particular prospective students, current students, alumni, and employers–they could take a significant step towards meaningful differentiation. This does not mean that law schools should simply supply exactly and only the legal education that customers demand. Law schools, of course, must also consider their responsibilities to the public and the profession. But the overwhelming majority of law schools must give far greater consideration to the “access to legal services” crisis, the evolving legal landscape, and the voice of their customers.
Types of Legal-Service Delivery Innovation and Technology Programs
For this prototype, we created the following taxonomy of legal-service delivery innovation and technology programs. The following categories are not mutually exclusive. A law school could offer something in each category.
- Center(s) – Center or institute with a mission related to legal-service delivery innovation and technology.
- JD Concentration – Evidence on the law school’s website that the law school has attempted to create and communicate to students a concentration of legal-service delivery innovation and technology classes. This includes law schools that offer a certificate as well as those that only identify a grouping of classes and help students navigate through them.
- LLM Concentration – Evidence on the law school’s website that the law school has attempted to create and communicate to students a concentration of legal-service delivery innovation and technology classes for LLM students. This includes law schools that offer a certificate as well as those that only identify a grouping of classes and help students navigate through them.
- Clinical – A clinical program providing law school students hands-on experience delivering legal services to clients under the supervision of clinical professors with a substantial focus on legal-service delivery innovation and technology.
- Incubator – An incubator or accelerator program designed to help legal-service delivery innovation and technology startups succeed.
- Initiative – A publicly professed initiative or other undertaking to incorporate legal-service delivery innovation and technology disciplines into the law school’s curriculum.
- CLE/Executive Ed – A program providing legal-service delivery innovation and technology continuing education to executives or lawyers after they have graduated from law school.
Legal-Service Delivery Disciplines Taught in JD Courses
A JD course falls into this category if its primary purpose is to provide significant instruction in at least one of the following legal-service delivery innovation and technology disciplines. (While we identified programs with “LLM curricula,” as discussed above, LLM courses were not considered when analyzing whether a law school teaches legal-service delivery disciplines in JD courses.)
- Business of Law – An introduction to delivering legal services, including fundamental business and operations principles that would be relevant in law firms, corporate legal departments, government, courts, and legal aid organizations. Ideally, a course in this category introduces students to each of the legal-service delivery disciplines in this list as well as legal process outsourcing, legal operations, knowledge management, alternative fees, the evolving legal landscape, and marketing, including social media.
- Process Improvement – Instruction in lean thinking (aka Toyota Production System), six sigma, lean six sigma, design thinking, or a similar discipline. Key principles taught should include: (a) Client-centric approach; clients define value; (b) Teaching the scientific method to solve problems and generate knowledge (e.g., Improvement Kata, Plan-Do-Study-Act, lean startup, rapid prototyping, etc.; reject conclusory thinking and identify assumptions; ideas must be tested and improved); (c) Go to the place where the work is done (Gemba) and empower those who do the work and those who are closest to the customer to innovate, continuously improve, and generate greater value for the customer.
- Leadership for Lawyers – Training lawyers in leadership disciplines.
- Project Management – Courses that include significant instruction in and application of project management principles. Ideally, courses introduce traditional “waterfall” project management but focus training on Agile approaches.
- Innovative/Entrepreneurial Lawyering – Courses that teach lawyers to be innovators and entrepreneurs with respect to legal-service delivery. These courses usually introduce law students to theory, disciplines, frameworks, and tools to foster creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Ideally these courses introduce students to tools like the business model canvas and disciplines like lean thinking and design thinking so that they learn the discipline and competencies required to generate ideas and systematically test and improve them. Most entrepreneurship courses do not focus on the business of law or legal-service delivery, but instead focus on the law that lawyers should know to counsel entrepreneurs. Therefore, we’ve erred on categorizing such classes as “law and [technology]” classes unless the description makes it clear that the focus of the course is on preparing lawyers to be innovative and entrepreneurial in the delivery of legal services.
- Computational Law – Courses that introduce the mechanization of legal reasoning. Topics include law as code, coding principles for lawyers, algorithms, and an introduction to expert systems and data-driven artificial intelligence.
- Empirical Methods – Traditional courses that provide a foundation in research design, statistics, probability, data distributions, statistical tests, and regression analysis. Ideally these courses also provide an introduction to data visualization, legal-service delivery metrics, and data-driven law practice. (Creating metrics for improvement and using small data to improve legal services would likely be included in this course or a Business of Law course.)
- Data Analytics – Data-driven law practice, with an emphasis on quantitative prediction, big data, and artificial intelligence, including machine learning.
- Technology Basics – Instruction in the competent, efficient, quality-enhancing use of technology, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, PDFs, the cloud, metadata, and case management systems.
- Applied Technology – Completing hands-on projects to automate legal processes, answer legal questions (e.g., expert systems, chatbots), assemble documents, and otherwise apply technology to solve specific legal-service delivery problems. Ideally, courses include training in lean thinking, design thinking, or a similar discipline to focus law students on first identifying problems, working closely with teams of people closest to the problem (including customers), and improving processes before attempting to implement technology “solutions.”
“Law and” Topics Taught in Courses
A course falls into this category if the primary purpose of the course is to learn the law applicable to technology.
- Artificial Intelligence and Law – Doctrinal course exploring law as applied to various forms of artificial intelligence.
- Blockchain and Law – Doctrinal course exploring law as applied to blockchains, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and smart contracts.
- Cybersecurity and Law – Doctrinal course exploring law as applied to cybersecurity, data breaches, and privacy.
- eDiscovery – Doctrinal course exploring law as applied to the discovery of electronically stored information. Some eDiscovery courses take a deeper dive into technology-assisted review and machine learning algorithms–which provides a grounding in the data-driven artificial intelligence technology behind many legal-service delivery technology tools. Those classes, therefore, provide some of the benefits of other legal-service delivery classes. Nevertheless, because this depth of technology instruction seems to be the exception, for this prototype we have categorized eDiscovery courses as “law and [technology]” courses.
- Entrepreneurship and Law – Doctrinal course exploring law as applied to entrepreneurs.
Possible updates under consideration for future versions of the Law School Innovation include:
- Capturing co-curricular events that provide instruction and opportunities to apply legal-service delivery innovation and technology disciplines. This includes lectures, workshops, field work, directed study, research projects, clubs, hackathons, coordinated participation in meetups and conferences, externships, internships, and more.
- Measuring the depth of instruction in each legal-service delivery innovation and technology discipline. (Some have suggested that this be based on the review of syllabuses. Syllabuses, however, frequently vary from one professor to the next for the same course, while the course description remains unchanged. For that reason and others, the most reliable predictor of what is consistently taught in a course is the course description. Additionally, one of the goals of this project is to foster discussion and consensus building about these topics and terminology that leads to course descriptions that better communicate to everyone–prospective and current students, employers, other law professors–which disciplines are taught in courses.)
- Capturing legal-service delivery innovation and technology experiential learning opportunities.
- Capturing the extent to which law students take classes from other schools within a university to obtain instruction in legal-service delivery innovation and technology disciplines.
- Measuring the extent to which courses provide opportunities for students to work in teams, including multidisciplinary problem-solving teams.
- Considering additions and deletions to the lists of legal-service delivery innovation and technology disciplines the “law and [technology]” courses.
- Measuring law schools’ use of social media (including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and blogging) to learn, develop their brand, and connect with the marketplace, including social media usage by students, alumni, the dean, faculty, administration, and staff.
My caveats stated in the Overview when I first launched this site in August 2017 continue to apply. Entrepreneurs like to talk about “failing fast.” That doesn’t go over well with lawyers. But we must embrace “lean startup” principles so that we can “learn fast.” That’s what I endeavor to do with this project.
If you have suggestions for improvement, I look forward to hearing them.
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