A panel discussion facilitated by Relativity at their annual Relativity Fest, held in Chicago, Illinios, discussed the future of legal education.
Headed up by David Horrigan, e-discovery counsel and legal content director at Relativity, the panel heard from Patrick Burke, founding director of the Cardozo Law School Data Law Initiative and counsel at Bennett & Samios LLP; Mary Mack, Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists (ACEDS); Wendy Collins Perdue - dean and professor, University of Richmond School of Law; Hon. Xavier Rodriguez - U.S. district judge, Western District of Texas; and William Hamilton - professor and executive directior, E-Discovery Project, University of Florida Levin College of Law.
Each offered their opinion on what the future of legal education is set to look like, particularly as technology continues to be one of the driving forces behind “profound changes in legal education”.
The panel agreed that with job opportunities becoming more competitive, law students need to find a way to differentiate themselves to employers, such as upskilling in tech and in particular, e-discovery.
Professor Hamilton, from the University of Florida, said he is now encouraging his students to learn more about tech and e-discovery, suggesting that being a black letter lawyer in this day and age is not a viable option.
“In Florida we teach e-discovery, we teach analytics, we teach artificial intelligence,” he said.
“All these constellations of courses are becoming important for the success of many different directions.”
Judge Rodriguez agreed that changing the mindset of law students has become necessary to prepare them for the future.
“I mean, we’re talking about changing the mindset of law students so they can understand what avenues might be available to them,” he said.
However, for many universities the notion of upskilling lawyers in tech and e-discovery is still a difficult one to grasp, the panel admitted.
For some faculties, Mr Burke said, the idea of introducing teachings around these can see some backlash initially.
“[My] faculty was like, ‘why do we need e-discovery in class?’, because half of them are older and they have no idea what it is,” he said.
“Five, 10 years ago, you wouldn’t have thought about the info bug, or cyber security in class, so you’ve got to get them over the hump so they open their minds up and see that students like it, see they’re getting jobs, and then you take it from there.”
Relativity Fest is an annual mega-conference featuring a plethora of high-profile speakers from around the world.
This year’s Relativity Fest was held at Chicago’s Hilton Hotel from 22 to 25 October, and was attended by over 2,000 legal delegates.
A recent episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show was recorded at Relativity Fest, discussing what the development of e-discovery technology has meant for lawyers, as well as the emergence of the multinational event.
This special episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show heard from Relativity COO Nick Robertson, vice-president of international Steve Couling and Asia-Pacific team lead Stuart Hall.
To listen to the episode, click here.