Today’s blog post is a venture into an area of legal education innovation about which I am much less an expert and much more a novice. Having at least hosted a legal hackathon during my time as dean at UA Little Rock, I feel just brave enough to write about this innovation.

I am writing about an exciting development at the intersection of law, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and access to justice, the Legal Technology Lab arose out of conferences held in 2014 and 2015 at UMKC School of Law, launched in 2016, and already has grown to more than a dozen projects. Here is a link to the LTL Project Portfolio, which includes, among other things, projects aimed at re-engineering legal and regulatory processes, the application of data analytics to legal decision-making, intelligent legal compliance, and Blockchain-enabled contracts.

(For those of you who, like me, you are relatively new to Blockchain and the related field of cryptocurrencies, I have committed the cardinal sin of linking to Wikipedia. It was the first thing I read on the subject to start my own education.)

I share three examples below to give you a flavor of the exciting work sponsored by the LTL.

  • Data Analytics and FCC Policy Making. “[T]his project examines around two million documents from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The project has identified key links between public inputs and agency action, thereby providing a policy-making influence map. . . . The project demonstrates the use of technical tools to make information located at the intersection of law, technology, and entrepreneurship useful and accessible. Citizens and lawyers can leverage these tools to more effectively manage one of the biggest challenge in start-up entrepreneurship:  regulation. . . . The FCC Media policy project shows how lawyers can marshal technology to level the playing field.”
  • Law Incubator-driven Data Analytics for Entrepreneurship Policy. “Through networks of university-based entrepreneurship law clinics in the US and Europe, and a US-wide network of legal incubators supporting entrepreneurial lawyers, the LTL Community has access to a collective set of data on entrepreneurs and start-ups and their barriers to innovation. . . . [The project] will focus on developing a system to produce, use and share high-quality evidence that can lead to better recommendations on law and policy changes, better decisions to improve how interventions are funded and delivered, and the dissemination of best practices that promote affordable access to quality legal services.”
  • Developing New Applications for Smart Contracts. “The use of computer code and a blockchain—the same technology that underlies Bitcoin—makes it possible for parties to express contractual promises in computer code and have those performance obligations automated . . . . The Smart Contracts Project is exploring a range of contracts capable of being rendered ‘smart.’ [T]he project is focusing on prototyping one or more . . . agreements with the aim of building examples of enforceable smart contracts that can interact with existing legal systems.”

For what it’s worth, I have bookmarked the LTL news feed.