University bids to create ‘ABS-ready’ law students and develop innovation in legal services

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By Legal Futures

10 July 2012

Whittle: vital for students to lead change

A groundbreaking project that aims to encourage students to think about innovation in the post-alternative business structure (ABS) world – and help them develop new ideas for delivering legal services – has been launched by Sheffield Hallam University.

The aim of LawSync is to promote “a better synchronisation between law as an academic discipline, professional practice, regulatory influences, and the expectations of consumers of legal services”, organisers at the department of law, criminology and community justice said.

It comes ahead of the Legal Education and Training Review symposium in Manchester today and tomorrow, the centrepiece of the review’s stakeholder engagement, at which the impact of ABS on training will be one of the issues under the spotlight.

As well as providing an online resource where new developments and opportunities can be discussed with those active in the legal market, LawSync will also see a teaching module created for final year students in the 2013 academic year that encourages them to innovate in response to developments in legal regulation, the use of technology, and consumer expectations.

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The LawSync module is meant to act as a ‘think tank’ for innovation in legal services, staffed by both academics and commercial players who will help in the research and development of innovative products and structures/models. It is possible that the university’s law clinic – currently modelled on orthodox legal service provision – could be used as a laboratory for this purpose.

It is hoped the module also act as a base for research, consultancy and CPD related spin-offs.

Law lecturer Richard Whittle, the creator of LawSync, said: “In an era when you can get legal advice from your local WH Smith and find phone applications that can potentially avoid a trip to court, it is vital that students are at the forefront of leading the change.

“This project seeks to place Sheffield Hallam at the heart of the conversation between academia and business, with a view to ensuring that students can better respond to changing market dynamics and increase job prospects in a world where many of the old rules no longer apply.”

He explained that students will be introduced to key ideas around regulation, service planning, and innovation in legal services, such as apps, online transaction systems and novel service delivery methods.

“LawSync will help to produce graduates who are well placed to respond to the challenges in, and take advantage of, the opportunities that they will face in an evolving legal services market,” Mr Whittle added.


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