PROGRAM ON LAW & INNOVATION FAST FACTS
Program on Law & Innovation
Explore the future of legal practice.
The ways lawyers practice law are changing at a faster pace than ever before. Legal clients now demand efficiency, lower costs and better results. New technologies, including machine learning, have disrupted the legal services industry. Law itself is evolving rapidly to keep up with new technological developments, such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
The Program on Law & Innovation offers an innovative curriculum designed to prepare Vanderbilt Law students to thrive in an environment where rapid change will have a profound impact on legal practice, clients’ needs and expectations, and the ways clients access legal services. Beginning with Law Practice 2050, the program’s anchor course, students explore scenarios for future social, economic, technological and environmental change and learn to anticipate the corresponding impact on legal services.
Prepare for 21st century legal practice. Vanderbilt’s Program on Law & Innovation is designed to train the next generation of lawyers to succeed in tomorrow’s legal environment by anticipating the opportunities created by the rapid evolution of law and legal practice. The program offers classes and activities focused on four interconnecting themes: Evolving legal practice models. Law firms and
corporate legal departments are adapting to a more competitive market by changing the ways their lawyers practice and the ways they price and deliver legal services to clients.
Increased use of technology to deliver legal services. Machine-learning technology is increasing
the types of legal work done by computers, which are already used to review documents and predict liabilities and litigation outcomes.
Greater demand for legal innovation and entrepreneurship. Innovations such as commercial
drones or complex financial products demand new strategies for public oversight and present unanticipated challenges for the legal system.
Expanded access to legal services. As lawyers
become more efficient and legal technologies more widely available and affordable, the market for legal services is poised for rapid expansion.
“In Law Practice 2050, you learn the skills to identify an evolving area of law and become an expert in it. I chose to focus on artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It’s really exciting to be working in an area of the law that is innovative and constantly evolving.” RYAN MCKENNEY ’19 (BA’15)
Cyber, Privacy and Data Innovation Associate Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, San Francisco After law school, Ryan earned graduate certificates in quantum computing from MIT and in AI and business from Wharton. He is a Certified Information Privacy Professional in two areas: American Privacy Law and the European General Data Protection Regulation. He discovered his interest in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and privacy law as a 3L. “My Law Practice 2050 class and my classes in Legal Practice Technology and Law of Cyberspace opened my eyes to new areas of law and to the law and technology field generally,” he said.
Turn challenges into opportunities. Evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing offer unprecedented opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship, including new types of legal positions, new and evolving areas of practice, access to a broader client base, and opportunities to develop new legal products and services. Students in the Legal Practice
Core Courses n Law Practice 2050 n Legal Problem Solving n Blockchains n Law as a Business n Legal Project Management n Electronic Discovery Frontiers of Legal Practice n Cybersecurity Law n Legal Practice Technology n Law of Cyberspace n Robots, AI and the Law n Bioethics and the Law n Critical Race Theory and the Law n Intellectual Property and Antitrust Law n Marijuana Law and Policy n Disruptive Technology (short course) Vanderbilt also offers an array of Intellectual Property courses as well as courses exploring the frontiers of international, finance, corporate, criminal justice and other areas of law.
Technology course learn to exploit advancements in legal search engines, electronic document review and emerging legal solution platforms. Law of Cyberspace allows students to explore a frontier of legal practice. Students in Law as a Business gain insight into how law firms, in-house legal departments and the growing array of alternative legal business structures operate. Students in Legal Problem Solving learn how to imagine new approaches to legal services by applying insights from other disciplines. AI Workshop PoLI hosts an annual workshop on AI and Law, which brings together academics and practitioners to explore the deployment of AI in every industry, including legal practice, and anticipate the legal, policy and ethical issues as the use of AI pervades all sectors of the economy. Students help plan and attend this conference.
J.B. Ruhl, who holds a David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair in Law, launched the PoLI in 2014 to prepare Vanderbilt law graduates for the challenges of modern legal practice. Professor Ruhl developed and teaches the Law Practice 2050 course and is also an expert in environmental, natural resources and property law, focusing his research on climate change adaptation, ecosystem regulation and adaptive governance. His recent work includes “Designing Law to Enable Adaptive Governance of Modern Wicked Problems” (73 Vanderbilt Law Review 1687, 2020), co-authored with an environmental scientist and international and American scholars of environmental regulation.
Robots, Artificial Intelligence and the Law, a course developed and taught by intellectual property expert Daniel Gervais, examines how the use of robots in multiple environments poses challenges to the legal order—such as liability for damage caused by self-driving cars or AI-controlled devices or algorithms—and the interface of these technologies with law enforcement and the law of war.
Learn more about Law & Innovation Program.
2021 VLS graduate Ramon Ryan’s Note for the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, “The Fault in Our Stars: Challenging the FCC’s Treatment of Commercial Satellites as Categorically Excluded from the National Environmental Policy Act,” attracted national attention before its publication in 2020. Ramon discovered that the Federal Communications Commission did not require any review of the environmental impact of commercial satellites, which he believes violates the National Environmental Policy Act. His paper proposing such a review be required was reported on by Scientific American and Futurism, cited in a case heard before the D.C. Court of Appeals, and prompted legislation aimed at creating NEPA review for satellite launches. Ramon founded a new student organization, the Space Law Society, as a 1L and took Law Practice 2050. He joined Bass Berry & Sims, where he will be a litigation associate in the government contracts group with a focus on space law.
“The Program on Law & Innovation prepares students to anticipate and take advantage of an unprecedented array of opportunities and career paths available to lawyers. The practice of law is rapidly evolving, and our curriculum exposes you to the biggest challenges we face across our systems of justice through coursework, research projects and collaborations with law firms, courts and legal nonprofits. We give you the tools to design innovative solutions that increase access to legal services and improve their delivery.” CAT MOON ’98 (BA’92)
Director of Innovation Design, Program on Law & Innovation In addition to designing curriculum for the PoLI, Professor Moon established the Music City Legal Hackers, through which students collaborate with technology and business professionals to improve the delivery of legal services to underserved populations.
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