20 Most Innovative Law Schools

  • University of Oklahoma introduces students to innovative technology, including virtual reality.

We identified schools that are on the cutting edge when it comes to preparing students for the future.

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Artificial intelligence. Big data. Design thinking. Legal technology.

These can be scary concepts for aspiring lawyers. After all, these advances are challenging the status quo of the legal profession and threatening to take away work traditionally performed by first-year associates.

And it’s not just new lawyers who are affected. The legal marketplace is changing for all. Clients are demanding more for less — more efficiency, more attention to their needs and greater transparency. In addition, there is a widening gap between legal services and those who can’t afford them.

The good news is that cutting-edge technology and new approaches can help these situations.

“Lawyers are interacting with technologists, using predictive analytics and natural language processing,” said J.B. Ruhl, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School. “The first time you hear about that should not be after you leave law school.”

Ruhl and others believe law schools need to train lawyers to be innovators in order to prepare them for practicing law in the 21st century.

“Its magical thinking to believe that you are going to solve all of these problems when you know nothing about the tools typically deployed to solve problems in the universe,” said Dan Katz, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Lawyers should understand business, technology, process improvement and workflow optimization to increase the value of their services, Katz said.

Fortunately, many law schools are responding by introducing innovative courses, clinics and programming to prepare students for the changing legal marketplace.

The National Jurist took a look at programs across the country and identified 20 law schools with innovative curricula, programs and approaches to preparing students for the future. We start in Silicon Valley, where Stanford University Law School is breaking new ground. 

To see which law schools made our list, read the full article in the digital version of the National Jurist Fall 2017 issue.