PwC Tax & Legal was among the first to apply the concept of “NewLaw” to their business strategy in Spain. But the name is a bit of a misnomer. Far from merely a new wave of legislation or legal trends, NewLaw is a significantly different approach to providing conventional legal services. We’re talking about cross-disciplinary consultancy on issues that aren’t covered by traditional laws, from cryptocurrencies to driverless vehicles and even extraplanetary law.
These are ideas that seem disruptive or futuristic, but are a reality in some classrooms—in fact, students and future lawyers are demanding them. Future legal professionals understandably don’t want to complete their degrees and land in a job market where they’ll have to consult on matters they haven’t studied in their degree.
At least that’s what the students who recently participated in IE Law School’s Comparative Law in Action Challenge think. Students from IE University (Spain), Bocconi University (Italy), the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), Tilburg University (the Netherlands), and FGV (Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil) were among the institutions in the international competition.
It’s become quite clear what today’s students want. But, how does it look from the institutional side? Are universities ready to rise to the challenge?
“Digital transformation and globalization are driving disruptive change in the legal sector. Law schools should focus on how to adapt and respond to this new reality with their educational offerings and the academic research of their professors,” explains Eugenia Castrillón, Vice Dean for Undergraduate programs of IE Law School.
“The objective is to ensure that graduates have the appropriate skills and knowledge to succeed in an ever-changing legal profession that is advancing in three directions: the internationalization of programs, education in technology law, and the use of technology in law,” says Eugenia Castrillón.
However, even more profound and responding to an even deeper reflection is the change in how we understand education. To this end, Castrillón believes that “in times of change, it is particularly important to facilitate the dialogue between science, academia and society. It’s also crucial to promote research that contributes to designing this new reality in a productive manner, applying knowledge for the benefit of society as a whole.”
Law school classrooms—and what future professionals learn there—are undergoing a comprehensive transformation in order to adapt to a permanently disruptive world.
We asked 6 students, from the 6 participating universities what kind of training/knowledge/courses do they think will be differentiating in the future of legal education and about their professional aspirations.
Hannah Illathu - IE (Spain)
Legal literacy is a particularly important ideal that might not receive enough attention in the early years of any lawyer's educational training. Legal language should be something that is taught to prospective young lawyers from the beginning.
As is likely similar to many students my age, I am not entirely certain of the specific career aspirations that I am working towards right now- however, I am using this uncertainty and the broad range of my degree (Dual Bachelor's in Politics, Law, & Economics and Law) to have a kickstart in any potentially interesting legal career field. This means that while I would love to own my own law firm one day, I would also be interested in a career in international relations/foreign affairs, working as legal counsel for companies, or using my legal talents/knowledge to help those who need it.
Carlo Maria Serranò –Bocconi University (Italy)
I foresee a greater Academic attention paid to the link between Law and Economics in Contractual matters with efforts to put in the hands of future jurists’ instruments of Negotiation and Strategic Business Structuring tools for legal based Economic Alliances.
In a legal system that tends towards globalization, while maintaining a proud sense of tradition, Legal Education will certainly continue with the focus on Technology and its unpredictable applications as a tool to present legal implications in a borderless jurisdiction.
The recent increase in exploration missions in space and the new Investment Opportunities for Private Companies and Public Authorities will give rise to a new type of litigation concerning extra-planetary issues, expanding the number of courses regarding Space Law to date relegated to some universities in the United States.
From a procedural point of view, I predict that legal training will benefit a drastic change in light of the influences that Civil Law and Common Law systems reciprocally exchange. Therefore, a greater attention on the Interpretation of Statutes in Common-Law universities and a learning process that starts from the concrete case with heuristic process learning for Civil Law Universities.
My professional Aspiration is to be Partner of a Leading International Law Firm guiding a Team of Aspiring Lawyers pushing limits of legal Practice in different Fields whereby a deeper comprehension on Business related matters will be required.
Furthermore, my passion for China Markets will force me to pay greater attention and dedication to advanced Comparative Law and a broader knowledge of the Chinese language as well.
Stella Wang – University of Edimburgh (United Kingdom)
I believe the education and training for multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary would be different. We know that in the future, legal questions will not as simple as before. One problem or case will never only connect with one field. A professional lawyer or judge needs to get more combination competence. I studied both media and law majors in my university so I found that I I have a diverse mindset when I met legal problems. I remembered a sentence from my undergraduate supervisor told that all disciplines must learn a litte law and law must learn all disciplines. Law can provide critical and logical skill to other courses and they can also offer a skill that thinks from a new perspective. That is a field that need to be differentiating in the future of legal education.
I dream to be a criminal justice judge aiming to help women and children, victims of violence. The world and my country need women judges with patience, empathy and compassion.
Reuben Hofman – Tilburg University (Netherlands)
I believe that courses dealing with the regulation of new technologies will be differentiating for future legal education. We are witnessing unprecedented speed and technologies to which the law offers no solution. Particularly, I am thinking of the regulation of cryptocurrencies, Big Tech and the fake news.
Important skills that will be key for future lawyers is adaptability. A 21st century lawyer, operating in a globalized world must be able to operate outside his own jurisdiction.
My future prospects are to become a partner in a big law firm in the Netherlands.
Amanda Lima - Fundación Getulio Vargas (Brasil)
In my opinion, legal education should invest in the application of technology in all its specific courses, such as civil law, criminal law, administrative law, among others. Technological disruption will also affect ‘traditional’ areas of the law, and an innovative focus teaching these courses will differentiate lawyers.
I aspire to work in the international scenario, being part of a international organization such as UN or WHO. Do reach my aspiration. I intend to do a masters degree in international law, with the focus on human rights and new technologies. I also intend to study abroad in this same area.