LexisNexis

Globalisation and technology - the main drivers in legal education

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Soledad Atienza
IE Law School, Madrid

soledad.atienza@ie.edu

The recently published ‘Blueprint for Global Legal Education’ developed by the International Bar Association (IBA), the Law Schools Global League (LSGL) and coordinated by IE Law School has been presented at the IBA Virtual Conference during a showcase session in November 2020. According to this global research, globalisation and technology are the main current drivers in legal education.

The report shows the key trends, challenges and opportunities legal educators face and aims to help legal education institutions navigate the ongoing changes and to offer a legal education model that responds to the current needs of the legal profession. The findings of this report are particularly relevant in the context of Covid-19, which has highlighted the importance of technological tools for legal education. The report gathers best practices from law schools around the world, which have been implemented to respond to the challenges described.

This joint initiative forms part of the ongoing research by the IBA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services into the trends that are shaping the legal profession. The Commission of the Blueprint for Legal Education, co-chaired by Fernando Pelaez Pier, Former President of the IBA and Soledad Atienza, Dean of IE Law School and a Member of the IBA Academic and Professional Development Committee Advisory Board. It has involved the work of eight researchers and four supporters from seven regions around the world – Africa; Asia; Canada; the EU; Latin America; South East Asia, Australia and Hong Kong; and the UK – who have analysed relevant literature (over 200 articles), and schools’ websites (420 websites), conducted online surveys (more than 300 responses worldwide) and interviews with more than 60 law schools and bar associations around the world.

The identified key trends include: internationalisation, technology and the development of new skills in legal education, while one of the main challenges posed for law schools is the regulation of legal education and the profession, an aspect that hinders internationalisation and innovation.

Globalisation

The report explores how legal institutions around the world are working in becoming more international, the number one trend in legal education. Although many law schools are introducing elements of internationalisation, only some are on their way to achieve full internationalisation of legal education.

Technology

The report also points out to the use of technology in legal practice, the impact of technology in legal education and its outcomes in the legal market, and to the new situation under Covid-19, where technology as a teaching tool has become a priority.

Regulation: the biggest challenge to innovation in legal education

Regulatory frameworks that govern access to the legal profession hinder internationalisation and innovation, but the good news is that institutions are taking this challenge seriously. The report explores why regulation is usually considered a limitation to internationalisation and to increasing the use of technology, a factor that is currently under development due to Covid-19.

Other challenges law schools face include diversity of students and faculty members (in terms of location, gender and cultural diversity), the lack of resources and competition, implementation of technology and internationalisation, aggravated due to regulations.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, law schools have also observed a relevant gap in the affordability and access to legal education among the students. Access to laptops, computers, or smart phones for e-learning is a challenge that law schools currently face. Socio-economic and gender inequalities are also a current problem in legal education nowadays.

The IBA showcase ‘Reinventing global legal education’ in November 2020 was co-chaired by Fernando Pelaez and Soledad Atienza. Immediate Past IBA President Horacio Bernardes Neto introduced the session, mentioning the current changes and developments in the legal profession and the relevance of this report. Other speakers in the showcase include Michle DeStefano, Sarah Hutchinson and Amnon Lehavi.

Michele DeStefano, Founder of LawWithoutWalls, Miami, talked about the need for a more global, diverse and, most importantly, increasingly inclusive and more tech-enabled legal education. Sarah Hutchinson, IBA SPPI Chair, mentioned that globalisation was the number one issue identified in 70 per cent of the research in the report, which puts it right at the heart of what has to change about legal education. Hutchinson also pointed how the report shows how economically important international legal education is. To conclude, Hutchinson mentioned that more internationalisation means a better cohort of international students, which means more resources for law schools.

Amnon Lehavi, Co-President of LSGL and Dean of Radzyner Law School, Herzliya, commented how regulation of legal education plays an important role for law schools. In addition, he mentioned how law schools should have a social consciousness, and broad commitment to society, ensuring that all major legal fields are taught. To conclude, he pointed how law schools should see students as future defenders of democracy, human rights and the rule of law and future agents of globalisation.​​​​​​​

The full report ‘Blueprint for Global Legal Education’ can be downloaded here: https://www.ibanet.org/MediaHandler?id=B372104C-690D-4EEE-B7F2-47A18C563E38.