The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has teamed with law firm Gilbert + Tobin and software company Neota Logic to introduce a new course that will provide UNSW Law students with practical experience in using state-of-the-art legal technology.
The “Designing Technology Solutions for Access to Justice” course will be introduced in Semester 2 as an elective for undergraduate and Juris Doctor students.
The course has been made possible through sponsorship by Gilbert + Tobin, which will cover the cost of the software licence and associated course materials.
Gilbert + Tobin’s Head of Legal Capability & Transformation, Petra Stirling, said the firm was proud to support a course that will position UNSW students at the forefront of legal innovation.
Ms Stirling said the initiative reflected Gilbert + Tobin’s comprehensive innovation strategy involving the use of technology and legal information systems, such as teaching lawyers to code.
“We are passionate about supporting educational programs that underpin a transformational approach to law. Following our long-term commitment to the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, we are proud to expand our partnership with UNSW,” she said.
UNSW’s “Designing Technology Solutions for Access to Justice” course is modelled on an original program developed in the US by Georgetown University Law School and Neota Logic Inc, an intelligent software provider focused on the legal sector.
Neota Logic’s development platform provides non-programmers with the tools to efficiently build, test, maintain and deploy expert applications. It allows users to navigate and build software applications and websites that replicate the thinking and actions of lawyers in the context of routine legal problems.
Neota Logic Managing Director, APAC, Julian Uebergang, said the UNSW course would “help law students add an extra dimension to their degree by giving them practical experience in developing digital solutions to provide access to justice to those who really need it”.
The ability to understand and build legal technologies will become an increasingly valuable skill in the marketplace, while the ability to provide appropriate critique and understand their limitations remains important for the legal profession.
UNSW Law students will initially use the Neota Logic platform to design legal information systems to generate legal documents from precedents and to provide relevant legal information in response to queries. After learning the necessary skills, students will work in small groups and partner with a not-for-profit centre or organisation to design and build a legal information system in response to a particular problem or issue.
Course convenor Associate Professor Lyria Bennett Moses said the course would provide students with an opportunity to take part in an important field of legal innovation.
“Legal information systems, sometimes referred to as ‘apps’, are being increasingly used as a means of providing relevant legal information and generating legal documents. The course will help students understand how these systems work and how to build them, as well as understanding their limitations and negative impacts,” she said. “The ability to understand and build legal technologies will become an increasingly valuable skill in the marketplace, while the ability to provide appropriate critique and understand their limitations remains important for the legal profession.”
Dean of Law Professor George Williams welcomed the partnership and said the course was an innovative way for students to learn about the application of technology to legal issues.
“UNSW Law is committed to ensuring that our students understand the uses of technology and how it is reshaping legal practice across the world. We are delighted that this partnership will enable the first use of this technology in the curriculum of a NSW law faculty, and that this is being supported by an Australian leader in this field, Gilbert + Tobin,” Professor Williams said.