13 January 2020

Evolving legal education to adapt to a digitalized legal labor market


In the past two years, there have been many lively debates on how the legal profession must adapt to the on-going digitalization of the legal market and the changing means of production of the legal commodity. Such an adaptation will also necessitate a transformation of legal education to assimilate the changes that the legal profession will undergo. The question is, however, how might the legal profession adapt to its digitalization?

In their article in Utrecht Law Review, Werner Schäfke-Zell and Ida Helene Asmussen describe three possible pathways that the legal profession might follow: 1) regulation and coding of legal technology, 2) expanding the potential of ADR, and 3) the revitalization of legal professionals as guardians of the rule of law.

These pathways are based on synchronous sociological models of the dynamics of the legal profession and the legal market as well as diachronous sociological descriptions of the history of the legal profession over the past century. In order to concretize these hypotheses, the authors focus on the legal profession in three similar countries between which there is some level of comparability: Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

In accordance with these pathways, the authors offer three possible transformations of legal education that are understood to be non-mutually exclusive, and are jointly direct toward the leading question, how legal education can be transformed to adapt to the digitalization of the legal labor market: 1) jurisprudence as applied study of technology and society, 2) as applied arts and humanities, and 3) as a tool for increasing social cohesion.

The article is available in open access