611.08 Readings: Frontier Technologies of Legal Practice

In his book The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, Richard Susskind proclaims “[the] end of the professional era” and then identifies numerous challenges that face the doctors, accountants, and, yes, the lawyers of tomorrow. Rapid technological change is making many uneasy. The legal community fears job loss, diminished service quality, loss of professional community, and much more. But this same technological change also offers tremendous potential opportunity for those willing to imagine a brave new era of legal practice. And, as Susskind himself invites, “professionals should become directly involved in the development of the systems that handle and deliver practical expertise.” This course aims to help us do exactly that: to understand, re-imagine, shape, and lead the next generation of legal practice.

 “Frontier Technologies of Legal Practice” is a one-credit, fast-track course meeting for 6 weeks of the fall semester (see dates below). Each class will include guest speakers and will focus on different aspects of the rapidly evolving technological landscape and the ways it will shape the practice of law in the next generation. Technologies will include those that are existing (e-discovery; big data, expert systems, etc.), emerging (artificial intelligence and machine learning; semantic systems, etc.), and those that have the potential to revolutionize the law and other industries in decades to come (blockchains and DAOs, etc.).

Of three primary ways of analyzing law tech—(1) the law of technology, (2) the technology of practicing law, and (3) the technology of the clients/industries lawyers serve—this course will focus on the latter two. Those interested in the law of technology (for example, how the law must respond and reshape in light of driverless cars), please consider the companion course, The Law of Robots & Exponential Technologies, which meets at the same time on weeks when this course does not meet (In other words, the courses were designed to allow you to enroll in both).


*This 1-credit fast-track course meets only on the days noted above. Students will be responsible for careful class preparation, participation in class, and periodic response papers. Evaluation will be on a CR/NC basis. No prerequisites.

  • Thursday 8/25
  • Thursday 9/8
  • Thursday 9/29
  • Thursday10/20
  • Thursday 11/3
  • Thursday 11/17

Special Notes:

Meets 6 dates: 8/25, 9/8, 9/29, 10/20, 11/3, 11/17

Fall 2016

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Jeff Ward
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice