Law Schools as Knowledge Centers in the Digital Age
Law Schools as Knowledge Centers in the Digital Age, Vern R. Walker, A. J. Durwin, Philip H. Hwang, Keith Langlais and Mycroft Boyd. In the Chicago-Kent Law Review 88:879-916 (2013) (Symposium Issue on “Justice, Lawyering and Legal Education in the Digital Age”). Copy of full text available for download in .pdf format.
From the Introduction:
Law schools address various societal needs, including educating new lawyers for the profession, researching and critiquing the legal system, and helping to increase the fairness of legal decision-making and the access to justice for all members of society. To these ends, law schools have focused on articulating the requirements, relevant communication techniques, and logical application of justice and fairness in society in order to educate new lawyers for professional participation in the legal system. This process entails analyzing and critiquing legal rule systems and policy objectives. The digital age in the twenty-first century brings both complexity and opportunity to such traditional tasks. This article suggests that law schools have an opportunity to become digital “knowledge centers” for society as part of their central mission, and thereby accomplish many of their traditional goals through innovative digital means.
This article first defines the general concept of a “knowledge center,” and then demonstrates that research laboratories in the sciences provide a concrete example of that concept. This article then applies both the general concept of a “knowledge center” and the scientific research paradigm to legal education in the digital age. Since the information explosion, which occurred as a result of widespread access to the Internet and the World Wide Web, law schools have increasingly employed online tools to disseminate their traditional knowledge products. Being a knowledge center in the digital age, however, also involves re-conceptualizing the forms of useful knowledge and developing digital tools for accomplishing new tasks. The Research Laboratory for Law, Logic and Technology (LLT Lab) at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University provides an extended example of the new opportunities and tools available to law schools. The LLT Lab, however, provides only a few specific examples of how innovative law schools could function as knowledge centers in the digital age.