What does the Institute on Legal Innovation & Technology (LIT) do?
We started up in the spring of 2013 and we launch all sorts of projects to leverage technology and other innovations to make law practice, and delivery of legal services, better. Our students are at the center of this, and we constantly develop new courses and opportunities to teach them to use technology to deliver law-related services in innovative ways. You can check out a sampling of our work here.
How is the Institute going to help set Suffolk Law apart?
There are currently only a few law schools with institutes or formal programs studying these issues. There are a lot of law schools, including Suffolk, that focus on technology and intellectual property, but so far only a handful that are at the intersection of technology and law practice innovation. We’re hopeful that this will be a real contribution to legal academia, the profession, students, and Suffolk Law graduates. We’re really excited to keep leading in this area and we hope others will decide to join us.
Why is there a need for this now?
There’s a need right now because technology is transforming the practice of law in amazing and dramatic ways. Lawyers need to understand how to use technology to innovate in a competitive marketplace. For example, technology can bring down costs so that lawyers can reach clients who might otherwise be unable to afford legal services. Many people are often willing to pay a lawyer but can’t pay the rates many lawyers need to charge to cover their overhead. Technology offers a way for lawyers to innovate, reach new markets profitably, and improve access to legal help for lower income people.
In what ways will the Institute help students?
One way the Institute can help students is by teaching them how to use technology to deliver legal services more efficiently and effectively. Just one of many examples from our Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines class: one student developed an app that simplifies filing a consumer complaint—basically taking the old, cumbersome way of doing that and modernizing it, making it as user-friendly as an app on your phone.
We also have a fantastic course in legal process and project management, which is taught by a national figure in that field. That course looks at the bottlenecks and stumbling blocks in a legal process and works out solutions. That kind of efficiency changes the way law is practiced and opens the door for a lot of moderate income clients, too. We’re teaching students to find a problem and solve it, and that’s a great feeling and great for the field.