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Should Law Schools Teach Legal Tech?

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By George Khoury, Esq. on December 13, 2017 5:55 AM

Do law schools really need to teach students how to use the emerging legal tech of today and tomorrow? Or maybe just yesterday? After all, some Millennials don't even know how to Google.

While it might sound nice for schools to require students to pass certain technological core competencies, there's a pretty strong argument against tech being a requirement: Law school is for learning the law, not how to create or use legal tech. However, considering how ingrained some legal tech has become in the practice of law, it really begs the question of whether it's time for schools to re-evaluate the tech that is taught.

Legal Tech in Law School

Due to the wide range of tech that caters to the legal profession, it would be near impossible for a school to offer courses on it all. Certain technological conveniences have become so widely accepted, like online research, that all law schools have incorporated this into the curriculum.

But, despite the wide prevalence of ediscovery, only a handful of schools actually have hands on courses teaching students how to use ediscovery review software, with only a handful more teaching courses on the subject. Also, while some legal writing courses will cover the drafting of letters, often email is ignored even though it has become the most heavily used written communication tool.

Limited Resources

The relationship between the law and legal technology is complex and complicated, and prospective students interested in being legal tech leaders might want to base their school choice on the specific, but limited, legal tech course offerings. Though there is clearly a need for education in the intersection between law and tech, teaching law students to be tech innovators might not actually be good for students' legal career prospects. Law schools have limited resources, and devoting those to teaching fleeting technologies just isn't practical.

Most law school curriculums do not leave much room for elective courses beyond the subjects tested on most states' bar exams. In fact, at most school, not all bar subjects are required courses. This means that taking a tech elective could result in a student not taking an elective course that's tested on the bar exam.

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