At a time when the legal profession is racing to keep pace with advances in technology and innovation, a growing number of law schools are offering LL.M. programs that focus on those critical issues, giving students the skills they need for tomorrow’s job market in the legal, finance and technology industries.
The rapid rise of innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing and big data, has been reshaping the global economy.
The advancement of science and technology has presented a series of legal and regulatory challenges for lawyers, including information privacy and data protection, intellectual property, consumer rights, financial stability as well as environmental issues.
“Many jurisdictions hastily implement regulations governing the development and use of certain new technologies. They often lack a clear long-term vision and don’t adequately involve the entire community,” says Wayne Stacy, executive director at Berkeley Law’s Center for Law and Technology in California.
“Our tech program is designed to help students develop a foundation from which they can keep up with these regulations and help people look at long-term policies in addition to immediate regulations.”
Bright job prospects for 21st century lawyers
The Berkeley Center for Law and Technology offers a specialized certificate program for LL.M. executive track students that is focused on intellectual property law, privacy law and other technology-related areas of law. It draws a wide range of LL.M. students.
“Some students have come to do their LL.M. here because their country is in an earlier phase of developing their technology-related laws and find it helpful to see how the U.S. has approached similar issues,” says Stacy. “Other students come from countries where the body of technology law has gone in a different direction than the U.S. and they appreciate learning about the contrast.”
Some students are considering going into the field of law and technology and are using their LL.M. to test the waters, or to show potential employers their interest in this practice area.
“Even if students leave the LL.M. for a job not directly related to law and technology, they are lawyers in a technical world, and having a personal understanding of the law is always beneficial,” Stacy adds.
The job prospects for such lawyers are bright, according to Matthew D’Amore, the Director of the Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship Program at Cornell Law School and Cornell Tech in New York.
“Our students have placed at top law firms, joined or founded startups and legal tech companies,” he says. “With a solid foundation in technology law and practice, business law and business, our students are well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities in a changing and evolving market.”
A hands-on legal learning experience
The program at Cornell focuses on helping LL.M. students not just learn the legal regimes that relate to emerging technologies, but also the practice of law in this field.
“We teach not just Intellectual Property and Internet Law, but Technology Transactions in which students learn how to move companies forward, monetize ideas and mitigate risks within our legal framework,” D’Amore says. “And we couple that with a grounding in business and in product development, so students can see first-hand the challenges their future clients address every day.”
To prepare LL.M. students for tomorrow’s legal services sector, King’s College London offers the LL.M. in Law and Technology program, which gives lawyers an opportunity to systematically acquire academic training in the interdisciplinary area of law and technology.
“The Law and Technology pathway explores the opportunities, legal problems, and risks concerning the most pressing issues in the 21st century, such as e-commerce, intellectual property, cyberspace, cryptocurrencies and blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and other financial technologies,” says Lerong Lu, Director of the LL.M. Law and Technology program at King’s College London.
“It considers the most effective and appropriate regulatory approaches to address such legal challenges, from interdisciplinary, international and transnational perspectives,” he adds.
The classes are taught by leading academics specializing in technology laws and regulations of key jurisdictions, such as the U.K, U.S, E.U and China. The program is also supported by the Centre for Technology, Ethics, Law and Society at King’s, which aims to engage in rigorous, policy-relevant research exploring the legal, ethical and social implications of new and emerging technologies.
In addition, the LL.M. program at King’s focuses on cultivating the problem-solving skills, critical thinking ability, and adaptability of its participants. “It will greatly improve employability and prepare them for the future job market where employees with law and technology knowledge and skills are highly sought-after,” Lu says.