Incorporating legal technologies into the curriculum is a crucial part of making law students practice-ready.
To gauge law school faculty attitudes toward technology in the classroom, Thomson Reuters conducted a survey at the Association of American Law Schools’ annual meeting earlier this year, and 105 attendees shared their perspectives.
The Thomson Reuters survey results revealed that faculty are, of course, already using technology in the classroom and they’re inclined to introduce more — even if it involves getting out of their comfort zones, although some say them may need assistance to feel confident doing so.
Using what attorneys use
Among the encouraging survey results were the responses to the question, “How inclined are you to integrate new legal solutions and technology into your course workflow?” Nearly 62% indicated they’re already incorporating or are very inclined to incorporate new technologies into their curriculum.
Additionally, 56% of respondents reported they are motivated to add new components and technology to their class by “a drive to expose students to the same tools practicing attorneys use.” Other top-cited reasons for integrating new technologies into the curriculum included a “personal interest in changes to the practice of law” as well as students’ requests.
When asked what is holding them back from encouraging the use of efficiency tools, the most-cited response was “lack of awareness of the tools.” Respondents also shared hurdles and professional worries, from budget cuts and declining enrollment to a “lack of understanding of how [the] current generation learns” and the “changing legal job market and keeping up with employers’ changing needs.”
Supporting students’ transition from third-year to new hire
Despite these hurdles, the survey results underscored that faculty are open to using technologies and new teaching methods in their coursework. New technologies may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t necessarily mean incorporating virtual reality into the classroom — although some law schools are.
Instead, the focus should be on exposing students to the range of legal technologies — beyond research tools — that they’ll need to practice law. Whether it’s incorporating document assembly tools into a drafting class or integrating skills like time-tracking and billing into assignments, implementing technology in the classroom is simply about giving students the real-life skills they’ll need as new hires.
Thomson Reuters has identified certain faculty members at US law schools, who are incorporating innovative techniques, tools and approaches using technology to help ensure that students are practice-ready, as well as legal organizations that are helping new associates connect theory to practice.
In an upcoming series of profiles, Thomson Reuters will share how those faculty members are using technology and other innovative methods to prepare students and new associates to practice law.
Legal Education Innovation Profiles