Centre for Legal Education

Murray R and Edwards H, ‘Legal Tech and Sustainability’, Teaching Legal Education in the Digital Age (Routledge 2022)

Do students know why firms are using legal tech? If students do not understand the “why” – teaching and assessing digital skills simply becomes one more example of a hoop through which a student must jump to gain their qualification. To truly create the “sustainable adaptable” student then they need to be able to keep up with changes in technology. The rate of development we are facing is unprecedented, so the need for students to be adaptable has never been greater. An understanding of the reason “why use legal tech” enables a student to be a commercially aware practitioner and prepared for the technologically advancing legal practice.

This chapter will examine how the use of practical legal tech could be adopted to enhance not only the digital skills of students, but at the same time to enable them to develop an understanding of “why” legal tech is used by lawyers. The aim must be for a student to understand the commercial realities of legal tech; a means of achieving efficiencies, compliance, solving legal problems, and of limiting the possibility of mistakes. This provides the context through which to develop their skills.

The example used in this chapter will be how the use of a case management system could be a mechanism to develop students’ digital skills. The objective is to develop familiarity with how cases are managed in any context. Students don’t simply become adept at using digital skills of a certain type, but they gain an understanding of the purpose and advantage of having these systems.

It is hoped that the proposed approach ensures contextualised understanding and avoids the danger of terms such as “commercial awareness” and “business skills” becoming clichés.