LIT Logo

Legal Innovation & Technology Lab
@ Suffolk Law School

Course Work

The Lab's work is done primarily by: (1) student in the Legal Innovation & Technology Clinic; (2) students in other clinics serving as Legal Innovation & Technology Fellows; and (3) paid student assistants working on grant-funded work. Below you will find a description of the course taken by students in 1 and 2.

Legal Innovation and Technology Clinic

This clinic expands the traditional role of in-house clinics to the 21st Century, working with clients to expands the public’s access to urgently needed legal services, information, and ultimately, to justice. Studens work as part of a team consulting on legal tech and data science projects on behalf of real-world clients. Students explore the technical, legal, and ethical dimensions behind such projects, including how best to meet their client’s needs and balance competing demands when applying solutions to the work of practicing attorneys, courts, and legal aid agencies. Students will work on all aspects of a project’s life cycle from conception through execution, including client counseling and project management.

Official Course Description

Legal Innovation and Technology Fellows

LIT Fellows are enrolled in one of our traditional clinical programs with a reduced case load. There they work to provide legal tech and data science consulting to their clinic. This results in the production or maintenance of projects aimed at improving the clinic's efficiency or solving access to justice issues related to its practice. The experience is similar to that of those enrolled in the LIT Clinic. The primary difference is that LIT Fellows work exclusively on projects for the clinical programs. Students apply for to be a LIT Fellow as part of the standard clinical application. Fellows are encouraged to take Coding the Law before or during their first semester in the clinic.

Full Description (includes sample student work)


Coding the Law

Learn how to think about thinking machines in the law by building your own. In this project-based course, open to non-programmers and coders alike, we will explore the technical, legal, and ethical dimensions behind the use of computer algorithms by legal practitioners and the justice system. Projects range from the creation of simple document review and automation tools to the construction of expert systems and narrow AIs. When possible, projects will address real-world access to justice needs, expanding and improving free online tools that provide legal information. No prior programming experience or skills are required.

Course Website | Official Course Description

Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines

t's often said that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and in this course you will teach legal rules to the simplest learner that exists: a computer. I hope that you leave the course with a "programmer's mindset" to solving problems even if you never code again.

As part of this class, you will be asked to write computer code or to create an application using a drag-and-drop coding platform. Some of you may already have experience with computer programming, but this will be an unfamiliar task to many of you. Your most important job will be to think through the logic of a problem, break it into small components, and lay the tasks out in an appropriate order. Details of syntax may trip you up, and when they do, I ask you to reach out to me or your classmates for help without embarassment. Learning the technological tools is important, but not as important as walking away with a strong understanding of the concepts and techniques involved in solving a legal problem with technology. Please make sure you ask for help if you are stuck. You will not be penalized for having questions.

The computer code may be the most time-consuming part of this course, but we will spend a large amount of class time putting legal technology in context. We will discuss what it means for the future of the legal profession; how it is impacting today's legal practice across small and solo firms, public interest firms and corporate firms; the risks and benefits of legal automation and the ethical implications thereof; and the implications of legal technology for democratizing law and reducing the access to justice gap.

We will have a variety of guest speakers in this class, representing the public interest, corporate, and academic perspectives on legal technology. Guest names and bios will be provided in advance. You can also check the online version of this syllabus which will be updated when speakers are lined up.

No programming experience or other technical background is required.

Course Website | Official Course Description

Legal Technology for Small Firm Practice

Some legal work can be done by software systems that embody specialized knowledge and know-how. Often these operate as power tools in the hands of skilled practitioners. But increasingly they are being used directly by consumers. People do their own wills and taxes with off-the-shelf packages. Law firms sell access to online systems that dispense sophisticated legal analysis without direct human involvement. Corporate law departments equip field personnel with do-it-yourself contract assemblers. Courts and legal aid programs provide intelligent forms for unrepresented litigants. And lawyer-less entities vend interactive documents and automated legal assistance over the Web. What challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities do these developments pose for lawyers? What ethical and policy considerations frame the use of intelligent software? What are the business and career implications of tools that undermine the billable hour, yet yield dramatic returns for those who can raise the necessary capital? Can governments and non-profits exploit them to improve access for those who can't afford lawyers? Is that second-class justice? This seminar will survey these developments and issues - largely for the light they shed on lawyering and the legal services delivery system. We'll study examples in the above sectors. We'll examine the burgeoning literature on the practicalities and ethics of 'elawyering,' with attention to the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Each student will build an illustrative software application, for concrete exposure to aspects of legal knowledge engineering. By coordinating with the multi-school 'Apps 4 Justice' initiative, students will produce results that help real people with real legal issues. This is a three credit course. In addition to weekly classes, students are expected to spend an average of eight hours a week preparing for discussion and working on projects. The final project will be to build a software application.

Course Website | Official Course Description

Decision Making and Choice Management

Effective decision making is a key competence of any professional, indeed any human. The quality of lawyers' and clients' lives depends in large part on the choices they make and cause others to make. This course will review the many aspects of legal work that involve making decisions and influencing the decisions of others, such as client counseling, dispute resolution, adjudication, advocacy, document drafting, and negotiation. We'll consider both decisions under uncertainty and choices that require tradeoffs among competing considerations and perspectives. A special focus will be on how modern information technology can help (or hinder) effective decision making, by both individuals and groups. We'll explore how the data, knowledge, and processes at play in decisions can and should be formalized. Students will build software applications that assist professionals or laypersons with law-related decisions. No programming experience or other technical background is required. This is a three credit course. In addition to weekly classes, students are expected to spend an average of eight hours a week preparing for discussion and working on projects.

Official Course Description

Twenty-First Century Legal Profession

This course provides students with key business and professional information regarding the operation of a sustainable law practice in the emerging new legal market. Students will learn to generate creative legal business solutions. Topics include: building a low-cost law practice; providing exemplary client service; setting market prices for legal work; marketing a law practice; and crafting an online presence for your law firm. Students will be expected to work both in groups and individually, as well as to make class presentations.

Official Course Description