Melbourne Law School Offers A Law Tech Design Pop-up Course
By Sam Flynn, Founder and COO, Josef
Ninety students signed up, and over the course of the four week pop-up, learned legal design skills from Portable, and in teams built fully functional bots on Josef to automate legal processes from fan-fiction copyright applications to assessing eligibility for welfare payments.
We spoke to the students and the industry leaders who participated in the programme to find out how it went.
Eva Carroll, student, Melbourne Law School: ‘I didn’t even know it was possible.’
Eva, a third year JD student at Melbourne Law School, was one of the members of the team for HELP-bot, a tool to automate domestic violence intervention orders.
Although she describes herself as ‘not at all tech savvy’, the course empowered her to succeed. Eva did the course because she’s interested in the intersection of design, law, and tech, including in her future career.
‘I didn’t even know it was possible [before the course],’ she said. ‘I’ve learnt that there are more options available than the stereotypical day to day practice of lawyering. I’d love a career where I could combine these things.’
Lindy Richardson, Partner, Maddocks: ‘We can deliver change efficiently.’
Lindy Richardson is a Partner and the Head of Innovation at Maddocks, the pop-up’s law firm partner. For Lindy, partnerships like this broaden Maddocks’ exposure to innovative practices, tools and ideas.
For her, the lesson for the profession is that if students can do this in such a short period of time, then it shouldn’t take months and years to pull something together and bring it to market.
‘If we have the right resources and the right minds and the right commitment, we can deliver change efficiently and in a way that aligns with the needs of our clients and the public,’ she said.
Tom Dreyfus, CEO and Co-founder, Josef
Tom is the CEO and co-founder of Josef, a legal automation platform. Josef got involved in the programme because, as Tom said, ‘it is increasingly important that students come out of law school with an understanding of the ways tech will impact their work’.
Tom said of designing the course: ‘I don’t think we set our expectations too high – in four weeks we didn’t expect students to be able to achieve that much. We were wrong!’
Tom’s key takeaway? These skills come naturally to the next generation of lawyers: ‘These students are more than capable of building the products and services needed for the legal industry of the 21st century.’
Gary Cazalet, Senior Lecturer, Melbourne Law School: ‘Learn by doing’
Gary is a Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Law School, where he also teaches ‘Law Apps and Advocacy’. For Gary, the students’ enthusiasm was overwhelming.
‘We put up this completely voluntary [course], which would be held over four Wednesday evenings, for enrolment on a Monday. By the Thursday, we had 90 people enrolled,’ he said.
Gary believes that the pop-up was so popular because students understand that legal education is no longer just about textbooks and case law.
They know that they have to also learn experientially and work creatively.
‘Central to this course is that they learned by doing – using technology and the principles of human-centred design,’ he added.
Simon Goodrich, Co-founder, Portable – ‘Lawyers’ skills are transferrable.’
Simon is a co-founder of Portable, a team of designers, researchers and developers.
Simon believes that it is crucial that students learn about the transferability of their skills. ‘Lawyers often aren’t aware that their skills are transferrable to other areas. There are surprising similarities between lawyers and software engineers, for example. [Also] critical thinking. Group work. Inputting data into algorithms to determine future matters,’ he said.
Considering the evident excitement generated by this and other courses like it, the meteoric rise of legal tech education looks set to continue.
There are a growing range of legal tech courses on offer around the world. A number of them are listed in Artificial Lawyer’s Legal Tech Education Guide.
Also, if you’d like to find out more about the course in Melbourne, check out the short video below. (3.25 mins)