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Tech tool kit for future lawyers

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 29 October 2019, 5:26 pm

If a driverless car runs someone over who is liable - and would it be considered an accident so that ACC would apply? If more prisoners are appearing in court via video link, are different skills required for cross-examination than if the accused was present face-to-face?

These are some of the questions under review in a two-year project called TeLENZ (Technology in Legal Education New Zealand). It is funded by a $350,000 grant from the New Zealand Law Foundation and its mission is to find out what new skills future lawyers will need in a world where technology, cybersecurity and AI are ubiquitous.

University of Waikato Dean of Law, Associate Professor Wayne Rumbles is the lead researcher in TeLENZ, which will involve the creation of an online community and toolkit for legal academics. The latter will include lesson plans, assessments and possibly apps for students and academics.

"My vision is that every law graduate in New Zealand comes out of University with at least a basic understanding of how technology impacts law and the changing marketplace for legal services," says Rumbles.

"One example of technology affecting law, and one we're aiming to address, is how AI is changing how graduates are employed, so students need to be more flexible."

The project brings together all of the law schools around New Zealand, which amounts to six universities taking part - Waikato, Auckland, AUT, Canterbury, Otago and Victoria. There are representatives from each law school on the working group, and Rumbles says this is important as New Zealand is a small jurisdiction and it works better if everyone can share their knowledge.

Rumbles is also looking at what law schools are doing globally and has just returned from visiting the UK and US, with further trips planned in the coming year.

"Learning about legal technology is increasingly important for new graduates," he says. "Many of the larger law firms are investing heavily in this area, and those students who have taken legal technology papers are in high demand."

Rumbles says that knowledge of legal technology makes law students more marketable internationally, and universities are now looking to add more legal tech papers as options for students.

The TeLENZ project is scheduled to run until June 2021, with new resources expected to be onstream by early next year. You can learn more about the project at its website here and you can also follow the group on Twitter here.



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