How well are law schools preparing students to deliver legal services in the 21st Century? A new Law School Innovation Index, launched today, aims to provide a measure of that, and finds that Chicago-Kent College of Law and Michigan State University College of Law are at the top of the list.

The new index is an expansion of the Legal Services Innovation Index, launched in August by Daniel W. Linna Jr., director of The Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law. (See: Newly Launched Index Tracks Innovation and Tech Adoption at Law Firms.)

Whereas that index was created to catalog and measure law firm innovation in the delivery of legal services, this new index sets its sights on law schools. It describes its objectives as:

  1. Create a measure of the extent to which each of the 200+ U.S. law schools prepare students to deliver legal services in the 21st century.
  2. Create a taxonomy of law school legal-service delivery innovation and
    technology programs.
  3. Differentiate between programs and courses focused on “legal-service delivery innovation and technology” and those focused on the intersection of law and technology (e.g., “law and [technology] courses”).
  4. Raise public awareness of law schools that are educating students about legal service delivery innovation and technology, including awareness among employers, prospective and current law students, and alumni.
  5. Raise prospective and current law students’ awareness of the disciplines and skills needed to be successful in the 21st century.

Today’s “prototype” launch highlights 38 law school programs. It is based primarily on Linna’s and his research team’s knowledge of the market, rather than exhaustive research. Linna will await feedback on the prototype before adding all U.S. law schools.

“We should be teaching lawyers about the business of law, process management, how to use data, and how to be entrepreneurial,” Linna told me. “We want to give law schools a roadmap for how to do this.”

Among other top-ranking law schools are Stanford Law School, University of Miami School of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Vermont Law School, Harvard Law School, Georgetown Law and Suffolk University Law School.

To have made this prototype list, a law school must offer a course with instruction in at least one of these legal-service delivery disciplines:

  • Business of law.
  • Process improvement.
  • Leadership for lawyers.
  • Project management.
  • Innovative/entrepreneurial lawyering.
  • Computational law.
  • Empirical methods.
  • Data analytics.
  • Technology basics.
  • Applied technology.

The list also identifies schools with “law and [technology]” courses. That bracketed, fill-in-the-blank list encompasses courses teaching:

  • Artificial intelligence and law.
  • Blockchain and law.
  • Cybersecurity and law.
  • E-discovery.
  • Entrepreneurship and law.

“In this prototype, we begin with the premise that law schools must teach students about legal-service delivery innovation and technology,” the website explains. “We distinguish between the study of legal-service delivery innovation and technology (i.e., innovation and technology applied to improve legal-service delivery), on the one hand, and the study of law where it intersects with technology (i.e., law applied to technology, what we call ‘law and [technology]’ courses), on the other hand.”

Linna and his research team plan eventually to complete a comprehensive review of all law schools. Until then, he encourages those who believe their law school merits recognition to submit the supporting information.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.