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‘Legal tech’ is a term thrown around an increasing amount.
The impact of Covid-19 only served to further this trend, as firms and lawyers alike were forced to pivot to both digital offerings and digital working within days. Even our favourite legal YouTuber, Eve Cornwell, did a seat in a tech start-up as part of her training contract. Clearly, the allure of tech is only growing with the times, and understandably so.
As a student, it can be more than a bit daunting to get to grips with legal tech. Not only are you concentrating on your degree, applications for vacation schemes/ training contracts, and trying to be a well-rounded sociable person- you are now expected to know all about what is up-and-coming in the legal tech world and be fluent in at least one programming language.
Well, not quite. But it’s hard and can be overwhelming, so I thought I would share some advice about where to start with learning about legal tech as a student.
My first piece of advice would be to start small. This is not a situation where you can dive in headfirst and simply decide to turn your hand to designing a piece of legal tech yourself. I would recommend checking out what events your law society or careers service offer in this sphere- legal tech talks are great, but even just events about tech, in general, are also useful at this stage.
At the same time, consider finding some tech blogs to read or start actively seeking out tech news stories. This will help to contextualise your learning.
Remember, at student level you are not expected to suddenly be an expert in everything legal tech-related. Having an awareness about what the landscape looks like and where it is heading is really all you need.
Never stop learning
If you do want to go further, consider signing up for tech-related courses online to deepen your knowledge of specific areas. Websites such as FutureLearn offer courses online for free, or you can even look on YouTube for videos on subjects that interest you.
If coding is your thing, the Raspberry Pi Foundation offer great starter projects for beginners using the free software Scratch, and the great thing is they are also completely free.
Alternatively, consider courses on broader subjects related to tech, such as the ethics of tech, how to encourage adoption of it in businesses or the interaction between tech and the protection of our data and privacy.
Getting experience in legal tech specifically may seem impossible as a student, but it isn’t. Projects such as Avvoka (a document automation tool) and openTenancy (a project attempting to demystify the legal jargon in leasing contracts for tenants) are great at making legal tech accessible for students. They do this through online courses, focus groups and opportunities to contribute by volunteering with them. If you haven’t checked these projects out yet, please do!
Finally, I thought I would share a couple of LawCareers.Net resources about legal tech which you may find useful – I know I did.