With the continual advancement of technology, the legal field is also changing, with tasks that used to be performed by young lawyers now being handled by computers.
These developments are especially affecting low-ranked institutions such as the Suffolk Law School in Boston where employment prospects for graduates have always been low.
In response, the school has transformed a little-used room in its library into a legal delivery centre where law students can work on tasks such as due diligence contract review, legal spend analytics projects and large-scale document review.
It is the latter which is of most importance since many Suffolk graduates end up as computer-assisted document reviewers – one of the many fields which benefit from but which don’t necessarily require a law degree.
The shift in focus to this area has been seen as “super depressing” by the school’s students since it is not only a shift away from the traditional legal role but also doesn’t pay as much either.
Suffolk Dean Andrew Perlman said that while there are fewer traditional jobs available at law firms, the graduates from his school weren’t filling those positions anyway.
“[More] and more of [Suffolk’s] graduates are taking positions at the intersection of law and technology, for which a legal degree is helpful but not necessary,” he said.
This includes positions in fields such as compliance or with firms specialising in legal technology.
The school has partnered with Integreon to run the legal delivery centre in what has been called a Client Services Innovation Program. Law students will receive training through this program and will be paid US$20 (NZ$30) an hour for their work.