Artificial Intelligence in Law Schools: Busting the Silo

As we further consider how to train future lawyers for the Algorithmic Society and develop the quality of thinking, listening, relating, collaborating, and learning that will define smartness in this new age, law schools must reach beyond their storied walls.

In law, we must got beyond talking about algorithmic implications to actually help shape algorithmic performance. We need lawyers and programmers to work together to create a sound "machine learning corpus." There's potential for an entirely new subfield to emerge if given the right support. With many law school attached to major research universities, it's a great place to start this cross-pollination and interdisciplinary work.

This type of interdisciplinary work would help to satisfy the career aspirations of advanced-degree seekers but also the wishes of many college presidents, deans, and faculty members who see an interdisciplinary professional education as a path to greater relevance, higher enrollments, and students better equipped to deal with the modern world’s tangle of problems.

"The world is becoming more interdisciplinary and is forcing us to change to reflect it. The marketplace is telling us that students need to be well-versed in their discipline, but also technologically competent."

This is particularly difficult for professional schools as faculty members and administrators are more likely to have become used to running professional programs in the same way for decades. Remaking programs to teach more than one discipline hasn’t been easy. 

There are a few law schools, however, that have created hybrid legal majors to help reverse enrollment declines. Northwestern is a prime example. "We needed to advance our standing in the legal world by meeting its demand for T-shaped professionals — people who exhibit a deep grounding in foundational law but also knowledge of another discipline," says Daniel Rodriguez, the dean. "We saw interdisciplinary education as a marketing opportunity."

Like the recommendation that law librarians learn enough about coding to understand and teach how computer science intersects with the organization and retrieval of information, lawyers also need a basic understanding of important technology going forward.

But beyond basic understanding, we also need those who are trained in law to be on the front lines of working with the programmers to ensure reliable information retrieval that is free from bias. 

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