What does the Institute on Law Practice Technology and Innovation (LPTI) do?
The Institute was launched in the spring of 2013. It oversees projects and programs designed to leverage technology and other innovations to improve the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. We also develop new courses for students who want to learn how to use technology to deliver law-related services in innovative ways. A sampling of our work is here.
How is the Institute going to help set Suffolk Law apart?
There are currently only a few law schools with institutes or formal programs studying these issues. There are a lot of law schools, including Suffolk, that focus on technology and intellectual property, but so far only a handful that are at the intersection of technology and law practice innovation. So we’re hopeful that this will be a real contribution to legal academia, the profession, students, and Suffolk’s graduates.
Why is there a need for this now?
There’s a need right now because technology is transforming the practice of law in dramatic ways. Some of those transformations are helping lawyers, and some are cutting into lawyers’ bottom line, such as through competition from non-lawyer service providers like LegalZoom. Lawyers need to understand how to use technology to innovate in an increasingly competitive marketplace. For example, technology can bring down costs so that lawyers can reach clients who might otherwise be unable to afford legal services. Many people are often willing to pay a lawyer but can’t pay the rates many lawyers need to charge to cover their overhead. Technology offers a way for lawyers to innovate, reach new markets profitably, and improve access to justice.
In what ways will the Institute help students?
One way the Institute can help students is by teaching them how to use technology to deliver legal services more efficiently and effectively. For example, Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines is taught by nationally known legal innovator Marc Lauritsen. It was designed to help students think strategically about how they can use technology in their practices. So I think the Institute can help students through the development of more courses like that one. That course and a number of others are now a part of the concentration in legal technology and innovation.