Technology plays a significant role in the evolution of legal education and practice.
The “case method,” how law is taught in most American law schools, is more than 100 years old and exists because of a technological innovation—the spread of cheap, mechanized printing in the second half of the 19th century.
As digital technologies affect the way law is presented and delivered, we will see profound changes in how it is practiced, taught and conceptualized. Among these changes are new opportunities for creating digitized platforms to support the governance of formal and informal institutions. Like cheap printing before it, digital technologies create a wealth of new possibilities around how we define, deliver, and teach that set of rules and enforcement mechanisms we call law. What does government become as legislation and regulation open to digital means of access and participation? What will law itself look like when the means of interacting to create legal arrangements like corporations, wills, leases, even families, become a set of software options delivered by mobile devices? What is lawyering when it becomes a help desk click-through? What is dispute resolution when the full digitization of discovery migrates fact determination out of a jury box? And what does governance look like when it is delivered through digital means?
Students at Vermont Law School have a front-row seat in helping create a future where innovation and entrepreneurial energy redefine legal education and practice. Through course work, research sponsored by Google, and internships in new firms that are creating tools and practices for lawyering in a digital age, Vermont Law students see what law is becoming and have a platform to influence what the law will be.
Students work to standardize contracts, create transparency in financial transactions, and transform legal education through distance learning. And, as a result, they are creating careers—and getting jobs—in a field that is quickly evolving.