This week, I am returning to my series on innovative courses. This posting will feature courses that focus on law and technology.
The list below reflects courses from nine different law schools and includes twelve law and technology courses that I divided into four categories: (1) Courses that focus on creating and using technology in the legal space, (2) courses that focus on digital currency and business, (3) courses that focus on law practice technologies, and (4) courses that focus on cyber-torts, cyber-crimes, and digital privacy and security.
However, I will start with a quick overview of Penn State Law’s Law, Science, and Technology Concentration.
A Quick Aside on Penn State’s Law, Science, and Technology Concentration
The concentration requires JD students to complete 12 credit hours. Particularly exciting courses (to me) include:
- AI’s Past, Present, and Future
- COVID-19: Law and Tech Policy
- Emerging Technology & Legal Practice
- Information Privacy Law
- Information Security Law
- Internet Law
- Virtual Lab (detailed below)
For more details on the concentration, see this link.
Courses that Focus on Creating and Using Technology in the Legal Space
Southern University Law Center offers an intriguing course called “Intro to Intelligent Legal Systems.” In this course,
Students will learn the entrepreneurial experience firsthand to better serve tomorrow’s clients by experiencing tech entrepreneurship themselves, learning about business by running a business that involves the creation and launch of legal apps. Students will design technology that helps solve criminal and social justice problems facing many urban areas today. Through this exercise, students will hone their abilities to educate themselves about an area of the law and use that knowledge to imagine tech solutions, solutions with commercial potential. The goal of the course is to inspire students to launch their legal apps in real-world situations to real-world clients.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law offers a similar course. “Selected Projects in Law, Technology & Public Policy” is a 2 or 3 credit, project-based course that is:
[T]aught collaboratively with law faculty, business faculty, and an engineering faculty member. Law students are taught about community engagement, project planning, design thinking, change management, interviewing, surveying, and focus groups. Students work on technology-related, civic and social entrepreneurship projects for Kansas City or other municipalities with technology support from the Code for America Brigade.
University of Connecticut School of Law offers a 3-credit seminar on “Technology and Law Practice,” which is described as:
In this course, students are expected to work in small teams with a legal service organization to develop a platform, application, or automated system that increases access to justice and/or improves the effectiveness of legal representation. For the final project, each team will have developed and/or built a functional app or automated system that is adopted by the legal service organization and put into use for the organization or its clients. Students are not required to have coding or programming experience and will not be expected to write software.
Algorithms – those information-processing machines designed by humans – reach ever more deeply into our lives, creating alternate and sometimes enhanced manifestations of social and biological processes. In doing so, algorithms yield powerful levers for good and ill amidst a sea of unforeseen consequences. This cross-cutting and interdisciplinary course investigates several aspects of algorithms and their impact on society and law. Specifically, the course connects concepts of proof, verifiability, privacy, security, trust, and randomness in computer science with legal concepts of autonomy, consent, governance, and liability, and examines interests at the evolving intersection of technology and the law. Grades will be based on a combination of short weekly reflection papers and a final project, to be completed collaboratively in mixed teams of law and computer science students. This seminar will include attendees from the computer science faculty, students and scholars based at Boston University and UC Berkeley.
Finally, Loyola Law School’s “Artificial Intelligence and Access to Justice Practicum” 3-credit course gives students the opportunity to:
work in small teams with a legal service organization to develop a platform, application, or automated system that increases access to justice and/or improves the effectiveness of legal representation. For the final project, each team will have developed and/or built a functional app or automated system that is adopted by the legal service organization and put into use for the organization or its clients. Students are not required to have coding or programming experience and will not be expected to write software.
Penn State’s Virtual Lab offers a distinctive variant. According to the linked story, the Virtual Lab:
The Legal-Tech Virtual Lab reinvents the idea of a computer lab, piloting the lab of the future as a virtual space, built around a set of technologies and opportunities to learn about them rather than simply a physical room. Partnering with leading legal technology companies and interdisciplinary partners across Penn State, the lab will (1) train Penn State Law students in the ways these groundbreaking technologies are being implemented in today’s legal practice; (2) enable law and other Penn State students to explore the legal issues surrounding emerging technology; and (3) develop innovative educational content using those technologies.
Courses that Focus on Digital Currency, Law, and Business
The Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law’s “Digital Commerce and the Law” 3-credit elective course addresses e-commerce law and digital currency.
The course description explains:
As commerce shifts to the Internet and mobile technologies, the law has been forced to adapt to the realities of the e-commerce marketplace. Consumers and businesses buy and sell goods or services through virtual storefronts using digital contracts, paying with digital currency, and, in some cases, resolving disputes online. Meanwhile, blockchain technology has offered new ways to document and to pay for e-commerce transactions through smart contracts and cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin. This course will address e-commerce common and regulatory law, with a special emphasis upon blockchain technology.
In “Smart Contracts and Financial Technology,” a course developed by Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, CA, students explore blockchain technology and its legal effects. The course description explains that the course is:
A workshop exploring the legal implications of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, with a focus on cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin), smart contracts and other financial use cases. The class will feature a close exploration of the network and cryptographic features of Bitcoin, the first and most utilized cryptocurrency built on the blockchain. The class will then review blockchain technology more broadly in order to appreciation its suitability (advantages and limitations) for a variety of ‘smart contract’ use cases, including payments, swaps and other derivatives, and land transfer. A number of biomedical blockchain use cases will also be examined.
Courses that Focus on Law Practice Technologies
The third course in this category is “Law Practice Business and Technology” taught at NSU Florida’s Shepard Broad College of Law.” The course description for “Law Practice Business and Technology” explains:
This course examines the operations of successful private practice require an understanding of the primary tools used to efficiently deliver legal services and meet the ethical and professional obligations to provide competent representation. Lawyers need to understand the law firm business, operations, and relevant technology if they are to succeed in the profession. This workshop provides hands on experience for students on a number of key operational aspects of the practice of law, including the business foundation of a successful law firm management; privacy and data security in a law office environment, including but not limited to security and confidentiality of client information; marketing, public relations, advertising and social media; duties of technological competence under ABA “Ethics 20/20” amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility; predictive coding and other eDiscovery issues; client intake and case management; and issues related to the scope and composition of representation including the unauthorized practice of law and unbundled legal services.
The University of South Carolina School of Law offers a course called “Technology Law: Law of the Newly Possible” taught by Associate Professor Bryant Walker Smith. This course:
[E]xplores the relationship between law and technology through unique, immersive, and collaborative case studies that emphasize impact. The class has partnered with Virgin Hyperloop One on state regulatory strategies for ultra-fast tube transport and with UberElevate on policy considerations for flying taxis. Most recently, students consulted numerous stakeholders to develop public recommendations for the local regulation of e-scooters. In each case, students work closely with each other and with experts in academia, government, industry, and civil society to understand not only law but also technology, policy, and business.
Courses that Focus on Cyber-Torts, Cyber-Crimes, and Digital Privacy and Security
The last category is a bit of a catch-all and includes three courses from Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law.
- “Digital Crimes and Torts” is described as:
This is the age of the invisible criminal and tortfeasor, harming individuals, businesses, and governments under a cloak of anonymity and through the boundless reach of the Internet. Many crimes and torts were rare or nonexistent until this century—like cyber-attacks, cyberbullying, cyberextortion, cyberstalking, cyberterrorism, and cybertheft. This course will examine New Age crimes and torts and the legal challenges in imposing criminal and civil liability upon those who commit them.
- “Legal Boundaries in the Digital Age” is described as:
Technology extends the reach of individuals, organizations, and governments beyond borders, posing one of the greatest legal challenges in the Digital Age. A single action on the Internet can have consequences far beyond where the actor resides—stealing an identity, subverting an election, threatening a public utility—raising questions about what laws, and what governing bodies, will protect victims and punish those that harm them through technology. This course will examine the obstacles to enacting and enforcing laws to govern cyberspace and the real world when developing technologies create challenges to the lawful authority of governments to regulate technology.
- “Digital Privacy and Security” is described as:
The exponential and infinite proliferation of big data raises both privacy and security issues, as the sensitive information of individuals, organizations, and governments are collected and stored online where it can be hacked or misused without authorization. This course will explore the developing, complex web of laws, national and international, that govern data privacy and cybersecurity. More specifically, it will examine the limitations of the existing legal framework and consider the policy implications of greater regulation of data collection over the Internet and the evolving Internet of Things.