Guest Post By Alex Crowley and Mona Kalantar
Over 120 attendees engaged in a vibrant discussion about the future of law and technology at Northwestern University’s first public meeting of its Law and Technology Initiative on September 5, 2019. Attendees included academics and students in computer science and law and lawyers and allied professionals from law firms, corporate legal departments, legal aid organizations, alternative legal services providers, consultancies, and legal startups.
The Law and Technology Initiative aims to address two needs:
- Technology for Law: First, as governments, justice systems, and legal-services providers adopt technologies of automation, prediction, intelligent search, and semantic analysis, there is a need to proactively guide and shape these technologies, even before they emerge.
- Law of Technology: Second, there is a need for legal and regulatory guidance for new technologies, as many affect privacy, security, individual liberties, and views of liability and responsibility in the face of machine decision-making.
A thoughtful response to these needs requires a partnership between all involved stakeholders: Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, McCormick School of Engineering, and external partners.
Dan Linna, jointly appointed in the Law and Engineering Schools as Director of Law and Technology Initiatives and Senior Lecturer after a year as a Visiting Professor of Law at Northwestern in 2019, and Kris Hammond, Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering and Chief Scientist at Narrative Science, led the meeting.
The purpose of this initial monthly meeting was to introduce the Initiative and create a forum for discussion with our diverse stakeholders. The intent of the monthly meetings is to focus on:
- building a community of practitioners, scholars, and students;
- sharing information, research, and other resources within this community;
- gathering feedback from the practitioner community regarding their challenges, needs, and interests; and
- providing Initiative updates.
The Initiative aims to provide value to its external partners, including by helping to modernize legal-services delivery, driving innovation, and serving as a place to test ideas and help advance the legal industry. This Executive Summary provides additional information. For information about partnering with the Initiative, please contact Dan Linna.
Law School Dean Kimberly Yuracko’s Welcome
To kick off the meeting, Kimberly A Yuracko, Dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, welcomed all and expressed support for the Law and Technology Initiative. Northwestern “prides itself on preparing students to work at the intersection of … law, business, and technology,” she said. Over many years, Northwestern has an established track record of interdisciplinary work, including in the law school.
Dean Yuracko emphasized that the Law and Technology Initiative “is an initiative fully supported by both the Law School and the School of Engineering, by me and Dean Julio M. Ottino. We are really excited for what’s the come.”
Initial Meeting Discussion Session: 50 Minutes of Incredible Dialogue
Following Dean Yuracko’s welcome, Professors Linna and Hammond introduced the initiative and then engaged in fifty minutes of questions and answers and dialogue with a diverse array of audience members.
Discussion topics ranged from how lawyers and technologists might collaborate more effectively to using ethnographic studies to identify pain points in legal processes. The audience expressed particular interest in law firms and other legal-services organizations partnering with the Initiative on research and projects, including in the Innovation Lab and as capstone projects in the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence program. (More about the Innovation Lab in this Law.com article.)
“[T]his gathering excites me more than anything that I’ve been part of in the last several years, just because of the diversity of the people here and some of the contributions that I’m already beginning to see happen.” – Vince Marin, Sidley Austin Chief Information Officer
Professor Hammond emphasized that the Initiative is looking for partners who are champions, who want to partner with the Initiative to solve real problems. Professors Linna and Hammond are particularly interested in partners who have both an understanding of the problem and can provide access to data.
After a round of particularly in-depth discussion, Vincent Marin, Chief Information Officer at Sidley Austin, LLP, expressed, “this gathering excites me more than anything that I’ve been part of in the last several years, just because of the diversity of the people here and some of the contributions that I’m already beginning to see happen.”
Measuring Legal Innovation: Updates to the Legal Services Innovation Index
Professor Linna first spoke about the Legal Services Innovation Index, which aims to catalog innovations in law firms, measure global law firm innovation, and catalog innovations in law school curricula. Law student research assistants contribute to the collection of data and maintenance of the Legal Services Innovation Index. The purpose of the Innovation Index is to introduce transparency and raises awareness about improvements in legal-services delivery and education, empower consumers, and foster accountability among law firms and law schools to encourage them to contribute to improving legal-services and access for everyone.
Professor Linna announced future updates to the Law Firm Innovation Catalog (v1.03) and Law School Innovation Index (v1.01). Approximately 100 additions will be made to the Catalog from law firms of all sizes all over the world. Approximately ten law schools will be added as well. Anyone can suggest additions to the Law Firm Innovation Catalog (complete this form) and Law School Innovation Index (complete this form).
Following Professor Linna’s presentation, Mona Kalantar presented about how in-house counsel might use the Legal Services Innovation Index to measure the quality of services provided by outside counsel. Mona, a third-year JD student at Northwestern, worked for the legal department of a global technology company this past summer. She observed that the company’s attorneys were looking for ways to evaluate the services provided by their law firms. Citing several examples from the Legal Services Innovation Index, Mona suggested that in-house counsel could look to the Index to get started assessing a law firm’s efforts to improve client service delivery.
Measuring the Quality of Legal Services –
Great talk by @KalantarMona, @NorthwesternLaw 3L, at the Northwestern Law & Technology Initiative meeting last evening. Mona drew on her summer experience in the legal department of an international technology company.#LegalData#NLawCS pic.twitter.com/JZDVuQ6FZ0
— Daniel W. Linna Jr. (@DanLinna) September 6, 2019
Alex Crowley, a second-year JD student at Northwestern, presented about “Data-Driven Job Seeking for Legal Innovators.” Alex shared his experience using the Legal Services Innovation Index to identify innovative law firms as part of his summer associate job search. Alex explained that “good decisions require good data” and he pointed to the Index as one source of good data. He recommended that law firms publish more information about how they’re improving legal-services delivery. Alex recognized that “innovation by press release alone” is not helpful, and emphasized that “innovation behind closed doors” is not helpful either, especially for job seekers looking to help drive innovation in legal-services delivery.
Data-Driven Job Seeking for Legal Innovators
In his job search, @NorthwesternLaw 2L @alexscrowley used the Legal Services Innovation Index to research law firms. Alex shared insights at the NU Law & Technology Initiative meeting last night. Great talk!#LegalData#NLawCS pic.twitter.com/0BLV6RkwnS
— Daniel W. Linna Jr. (@DanLinna) September 6, 2019
Networking Event to Continue Building Community
After the presentations, we gathered for food, drinks, and great conversations to get to know each other better. As part of the Law and Technology Initiative, we aspire to build a community of practitioners, scholars, and students committed to improving the delivery of legal-services for all. The networking event after the September Monthly Meeting was one of our first steps towards building that community!
For additional information about the September meeting, see this McCormick School of Engineering article by Alexandria Jacobson: Law and Technology Initiative Kicks off First Meeting.
Upcoming Events and How to Get Involved
Are you interested in participating in Northwestern’s Law and Technology Initiative? In addition to monthly meetings, we plan to host training seminars, academic workshops, distinguished speakers, and an annual conference. Please see the list of events below. In the future, visit our Law School events page.
We will also continue to undertake research and development projects with external partners, including in our Innovation Lab and in the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence program. If you would like additional information about partnering with the Initiative, please contact Dan Linna.
Thank you to the Northwestern student volunteers who help support this month’s meeting: Peter Chan, Bo Chen, Monica Guaida Herrera, Alfonso Linares, Hitch Thomson, Mauricio Moreno Vasquez, and Zohra Yaqhubi. We are looking for additional Northwestern students and alumni, particularly from the law and computer science schools. If you are interested in working with us, please complete this form.
The Innovation Lab at @NorthwesternLaw kicked off w 34 law, computer science, & master of science in law students. @KJ_Hammond & @ProfDSchwartz & I are coaching 6 interdisciplinary teams working w project partners at @Mayer_Brown, @reedsmithllp, @ActuateLaw, & Bluhm Legal Clinic! pic.twitter.com/bZnVhD54nC
— Daniel W. Linna Jr. (@DanLinna) January 16, 2019
October 3: Change is Going to Come: Legal Services and Regulatory Reform
On Thursday, October 3, 2019, Professor of Law Dan Rodriguez and Jayne Reardon will lead an interactive discussion about legal services and regulatory reform:
Change is Going to Come: Legal Services and Regulatory Reform
Initiatives in several states promise to revise – and, in some instances, destabilize – existing modalities of regulation of lawyers and legal services. Reforms implicate the use of technology in legal practice, external capital investment in law firms, and legal representation and assistance by non-lawyers (from startups to the Big Four). We will address these changes during an interactive discussion led by Dan Rodriguez, Northwestern law professor and chair of the ABA Center for Innovation, and Jayne Reardon, Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Professionalism.
We look forward to seeing you at our October 3 meeting at Northwestern Law School. Please register to attend.
Alex Crowley is a second-year student at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Mona Kalantar is a third-year student at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Alex and Mona work as research assistant for Professor Dan Linna and the Northwestern Law and Technology Initiative.
Recent and Upcoming Events
|Tuesday, Sept. 10, 5-5:50pm||LegalMation demo and Q&A, Thomas Suh (co-founder & COO) & Stephanie Fox (Sr. Director, Client Experience)|
|Thursday, Sept. 12, 5:30-7:30pm||Duc Trang Book Launch – Architecture of Deals: Systems Thinking & Transactional Lawyering|
|Friday, Sept. 13, noon-1pm||Duc Trang & Dan Rodriguez Fireside Chat, DPELC-MSL LegalTech Talk|
|Tuesday, Sept. 24, 4-5:50pm||Expert Systems & Document Automation Workshop (Part of “AI & Legal Reasoning” class taught by Dan Linna.). Room RB339, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Space limited.|
|Early Oct. 2019||We are currently accepting projects for (1) the January to April 2020 Innovation Lab and (2) the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence program. Please email Dan Linna (firstname.lastname@example.org) for required documents and other information.|
|Thursday, Oct. 3, 4-5:30pm (networking 5:30-6:30pm)||Monthly Meeting, talks, & networking – Topic: Change is Going to Come: Legal Services and Regulatory Reform – Dan Rodriguez (NLaw) and Jayne Reardon (Ex. Dir. IL Sup. Ct. Comm. on Professionalism) leading an interactive discussion. Please register to attend.|
|Tuesday, Oct. 8, 4-5:50pm||Natural Language Processing, Contract Analytics, and Contract Standards – Kingsley Martin (Chief Contract Scientist, Akorda) (Part of “AI & Legal Reasoning” class taught by Dan Linna.). Room RB339, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Space limited. Please register to attend.|
|Thursday, Nov. 7, 4-5:30pm (networking 5:30-6:30pm)||Monthly Meeting, talks, & networking – details TBA. Please register to attend.|
|Friday, March 6, 2020||[Technology at Society’s Frontier: The Big Legal Issues], Northwestern San Francisco Campus – details TBA.|