Linklaters has worked with a group of academics to create a new legal technology curriculum for its youngest lawyers.
The curriculum, which was developed in partnership with Swansea University, will first prioritise the firm’s trainee population, starting with those who joined the firm in August 2019: around 200 people globally. But the firm has plans to turn the programme into a staple of its training contract.
The curriculum was born out of a series of workshops conducted in 2018 around the firm’s international network that asked stakeholders and managing associates what skills the future generations of lawyers are going to need. The main one identified was the ability to be comfortable using legal tech and understand how it should be deployed on matters.
As the firm’s global head of learning and development Patrick McCann led on the internal process to create a suitable programme, he wanted to include both Linklaters experts and an academic institution. Swansea University runs a week-long legal tech school every summer, so the firm sent London dispute resolution associate James Phoenix and capital markets associate Sam Quicke to attend the 2019 edition and gather further information.
Impressed by the event, the firm partnered up with Dr. Adam Wyner, an associate professor in law and computer science, as well as legal studies professors Yvonne McDermott Rees and Stefano Barazza to develop a series of modules tailored to the firm.
As part of the scoping effort around the development of the modules, the academics worked alongside a Linklaters innovation team that included global head of innovation Shilpa Bhandarkar, global head of finance and projects Paul Lewis, chief technology officer Bruna Pellicci and UK head of fintech and managing associate Richard Hay. The collective also included also Greg Baker, a corporate lawyer that has taken on an additional role as innovation and efficiency lead, and counsel Peter Church.
The group elaborated six modules. Three of them, which will be run in collaboration with the academics, include: the ‘law and AI’, ‘blockchain and smart contracts and technology’, and ‘law and ethics’. The firm will handle by itself modules such as ‘introducing legal tech’; ‘data for lawyers’; and ‘product development’.
The modules will be available from April, with a similar programme being launched in Germany.
The initiative comes as the firm has recently wrapped another global innovation initiative, a crowdsourcing campaign that devoted £20,000 to the development of a new client tool designed by three of its associates. The campaign was first launched in late 2019, four months after the firm ran a similar effort that gathered 38 new ideas from its staff to improve delivery, technology and efficiency worldwide.