Ensuring the next generation is equipped with skills traversing law and technology is paramount for law firms to compete in the digital age.
This raises questions about whether universities are teaching future lawyers the right skills; law firms are keen to collaborate better with academia to ensure our next generation of graduates is appropriately skilled.
Since the inception of MLaTI alongside the expansion of the Initiative our Teaching & Learning team in Law has been developing teaching in the Law Department that utilises our industrial partners, benefits our students, the local community and society at large.
Our team has developed a UG course, Legal Tech and Access to Justice and this innovative project-based course aims to provide an academic and practical introduction to Legal Tech through access to justice problem solving. Student teams are assigned to non-profit clients, and work together under supervision on a project to build an app to solve a real-world ‘access to justice’ problem identified by their client. Weekly seminars explore the access to justice crisis, how digital tools can help to address it, and how to design these tools using available technology. The course ends with a competition in which student teams present their apps to a panel of judges. The winners are selected based on criteria including effectiveness and creativity.
After the course, the apps are deployed to leverage the students' work to address real-world legal and/or justice challenges over and over again on behalf of the non-profit clients. The impact of this module is already evident and students who have completed this module have used their skills to create an app for the Legal Advice Centre and for a Family Law Project in conjunction with Liverpool University and SYKE Law. The team working together are changing and challenging the way that these students learn, are assessed and the skills they have to help and assist social justice here in Manchester and nationally.