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The trends law students should be across in 2024

As the legal industry continually evolves, 2024 will bring a multitude of challenges and opportunities for law students. Here, see key issues that these individuals need to be across this year, from final-year and award-winning law students themselves.

user iconLauren Croft 22 January 2024 Big Law
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In an increasingly digital landscape, law students need to be wary of various key trends and issues to be able to put their best foot forward and hit the ground running in legal roles early in their careers.

These include innovation and legal tech, climate and environmental law, cyber security, and human rights and social justice. As geopolitical tensions evolve, University of Technology Sydney final-year law student and winner of Law Student of the Year at the 2023 Australian Law Awards Kurt Cheng said, “keeping abreast of developments and application of human rights laws in Australia and abroad, including changes in legislation and legal precedents that impact marginalised communities should be something to watch.”

In addition, social justice and environmental concerns are key trends within the legal profession – and something that law students should be abreast of moving through the new year.


“The complexities of environmental regulations and cooperation on climate issues can create challenges in understanding this topical area. Students should seek out specific electives or extracurricular programs that emphasise these issues to gain a clearer understanding as this area evolves,” Mr Cheng added.

“Most Australian university curriculums have a focus on social justice, but the evolution of legal frameworks to address evolving social issues and the rights of marginalised communities takes time. Being aware and applying a deep sense of social justice consciousness in work and study will allow you to develop different perspectives and problem-solve.

“These challenges require continuous adaption and a combination of your knowledge, passion and interests. You should commit to continually learning beyond the classroom and actively engage with people and organisations within and beyond your university to seek out a well-rounded experience.”

Further, legal tech and innovation also continue to be “critical” for law students and young lawyers to be across.

“AI continues to evolve and transform the way we learn and work. Staying up to date on the latest advancements and tools will be crucial to understanding how this era will shift the way we approach work. These advancements work hand in hand with cyber security and privacy as society and industry become ever-reliant on digital. Being aware and continuously questioning the ethical implications of new technologies is important,” Mr Cheng explained.

“For legal tech and innovation, the rapid evolution of how we embrace and adapt new tools can create a knowledge gap among legal professionals, no matter which stage in their careers. By continuously engaging in development and training programs offered at uni and wherever you may work, you can stay ahead and on top of how these tools change the way we learn and work.

“[Within] cyber security and privacy, while the benefits of technological advancements are realised, so too is the need for robust cyber security and privacy protections. Honing in on ethical and compliance skills will allow you to gain experience in identifying these considerations when approaching work or study.”

LaTrobe Law School student and Australian Law Awards 2023 finalist Liam Crough echoed a similar sentiment and said that in 2024, law students absolutely need to be abreast of technological advancements, globalisation, and sustainability.

“The rise of AI, blockchain, and machine learning in legal research and practice cannot be overstated. However, this comes with its own set of challenges. As AI becomes more integrated into legal research tools, there is a growing concern about the accuracy and reliability of the information provided. Instances of AI generating false legal information, fictitious cases, and non-existent legislation are not just hypothetical but a looming reality. This misinformation can lead to flawed legal understanding and potentially harmful legal advice. Law students must, therefore, be critical in their use of AI tools, ensuring they cross-reference AI-generated information with reliable sources,” he explained.

“The global legal landscape in 2024 demands a comprehensive understanding of international law, including international human rights law, refugee law, and international criminal law. As world conflicts continue and media coverage of these events intensifies, it’s crucial for law students to understand the legal ramifications of actions taken by global actors. They should be able to identify key sources of international legislation and understand how these laws interact with and influence domestic legal systems. This knowledge is vital for addressing issues like human rights violations, the legal status and rights of refugees, and the prosecution of international crimes.

“With the increasing focus on climate change and sustainability, environmental law is rapidly evolving. Law students need to be well versed in this area, understanding both the existing legal frameworks and the emerging trends and challenges. This knowledge is essential not only for those specialising in environmental law but for all legal practitioners, as environmental considerations are becoming integral to a wide range of legal areas, from corporate law to real estate.”

While AI and similar emerging tech are being used increasingly in the legal industry, law students should also understand that good governance is “crucial”, added La Trobe University Law Students’ Association immediate past president and Women in Law 2023 Law Student of the Year finalist Andrya Younan.

We are in a fast-changing era, where things are always evolving, and both people and GenAI are becoming more innovative. This might be challenging for some law students to wrap their heads around the constant updates and changes to use GenAI effectively and responsibly. Luckily, there are unlimited sources, such as Google search or LinkedIn, where you can connect with people and have conversations around GenAI. There is so much to learn from just having a conversation with people,” she said.

Firms will always appreciate using technology to reduce time and cost while being accurate to provide the best service for their clients. As such, technology can be used in tasks that are more repetitive or predictable, such as e-discovery. There are endless possibilities to use technology. The best way to prepare for this is to implement these technologies in our everyday tasks, whether personal or professional.”

These key issues bring several distinct challenges, added Mr Crough, who said that law students should strive for technological literacy and increased learning opportunities around the ethical and legal implications of using these technologies.

“With the integration of AI and other technologies in legal research, the main challenge is ensuring the accuracy of information. Misinformation, such as fictitious legal cases or incorrect legislation, can lead to flawed legal understanding. To combat this, law students must develop critical thinking and digital literacy skills, cross-referencing AI-generated data with trusted sources. Educational institutions should focus on teaching the ethical use of technology in legal practice.

“Globalisation introduces complexities in understanding diverse legal systems, particularly in areas like international human rights, refugee law, and international criminal law. The challenge is in grasping the nuances of these laws and their application across different jurisdictions. Overcoming this requires specialised education, such as courses and internships focused on international law, and staying informed about global events and their legal implications,” he concluded.

“For environmental law, the rapid evolution of regulations and policies poses a challenge in staying current and understanding their application. This can be addressed through ongoing education, participation in environmental law clinics, and engagement with relevant seminars and workshops. In essence, these challenges call for a commitment to continuous learning, practical experience, and ethical practice in the legal field.”