The University of NSW (UNSW), law firm Allens, and the Law Society of NSW are teaming up in a bid to prepare the legal system for the challenges presented by technological advancements.
Allens will work with the university to establish the Allens Hub for Technology, Law, and Innovation within the UNSW Faculty of Law. Here, academics and Allens staff will work to explore the disruptions already facing the legal system and those to come, such as the focus on data-driven decision making, new kinds of biological, artificial, and legal ‘persons’, and threats to cybersecurity.
Associate Professor Lyria Bennett Moses, appointed director of the Hub, said the outfit will help UNSW undertake research in this area, and use its findings to better equip law students and legal institutions with knowledge and skills.
“Legal systems all over the world are already working hard to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technological changes happening in our societies,” she said.
“Coming together to consider the kinds of technologies that will shape the environments in which we live and how they will impact the laws and governance of our communities is an important first step in addressing these challenges.”
One stream of research to be conducted within the Hub will focus on the Law Society’s The Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession (FLIP) report. Contributing $250,000 a year in funding for five years, the Law Society will work with UNSW to research the questions raised by the report.
Led by UNSW Law Professor Michael Legg, the research will look at issues including artificial intelligence and the practice of law, technological solutions to access to justice, unbundling of legal services, and alternative fee arrangements.
“Technology presents both challenges and opportunities for the legal profession. Consideration needs to be given to how the legal profession and legal system will evolve while preserving core social and legal values, rights and protections,” he said.
Anna Collyer, Partner and Head of Innovation at Allens, said, “Technological advancements are causing significant disruption at all levels of our economy, with the law in many cases unable to keep up with the pace of change. We are seeing major impacts on the regulatory landscape, the challenges faced by our clients and the way lawyers do their work.
“The response of the law and lawyers to innovation will play a huge role in defining the benefits Australian businesses derive from new technologies and ways of working. It is essential that the law strikes the right balance between helping and hindering in this period of disruption.”
This is not UNSW’s first foray into exploring the impact of technology in the legal space, with the university earlier this year partnering with law firm Gilbert + Tobin and software company Neota Logic to create the Designing Technology Solutions for Access to Justice course.
The course sees students use the Neota Logic platform to design legal information systems to generate legal documents from precedents, and provide relevant legal information in response to queries. Students then work in groups to partner with a not-for-profit to design and build a legal information system in response to a specific problem or issue faced by the organisation.
We recently sat down for a chat with Petra Stirling, Head of Legal Capability and Transformation at Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers, talking everything corporate innovation, ‘technolegals’, and the firm’s work with law startup LegalVision.
Image: Associate Professor Lyria Bennett Moses. Source: UNSW.