Learning Law Better
We’re really interested in how law students & others can learn law better. We’ve collected some resources together, for others interested in this topic too.
Law & Games
One of our main hypotheses is that games can be a great vehicle for learning law.
Slowly, a movement of games & other interactive learning tools are coming into the world of law.
The major activity is around citizenship: how can tech-based games teach young people how to be civic leaders, interact with the government, and navigate civic life.
Some Existing games
Check out our work-in-progress law game, Law Dojo! We make law light-weight, colorful, and accessible — to play law smart!
There are also:
Citizen Science by the Games Learning Society, a socially-driven games lab out of University of Wisconsin, Madison
Do I Have a Right? a game in which you play at running your own law firm, from the iCivics team.
There is less activity around teaching and learning law itself — but a few projects are tackling this.
Objection! an old-school video game to teach the Rules of Evidence
For a (very) fictional version of what a US litigation experience would be like, play the app game Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney, a Japanese take on what it is like to be an American criminal attorney
The OpenGov Foundation has a project called Open Legal Documents. They have several projects about making government more open, transparent, and people-friendly. One way they do this is to post a Github of legal docs for others to use as templates for their own work. Rather than having legal docs as precious things to keep
For the Hack the JD event this past weekend at Santa Barbara’s College of Law, I was asked to prep a 5 minute elevator pitch of what I saw as the future of law education. I made this image to sum it up — at least for a certain type of law student, who was
This past weekend, I spent two very gloriously sunny days in Santa Barbara’s College of Law, in windowless rooms, planning what a better way to educate future lawyers might look like. The event was hosted by Santa Barbara College of Law, which is a small, ‘opportunity’ school that has a small class of night students,
I was delighted to receive a gorgeous copy of an illustrated guide to the topics on the New York Bar Exam: The New York Bar Picture Book, by Wela Quan. It’s a subject-by-subject tour of New York law, all laid out in illustrated outlines with cartoons, sketches, and comic touches. The book is a great
Last week I presented at the LSC (Legal Services Corporation)-TIG (Tech Innovation Grants) conference, on a panel about legal aid + tech in the face of natural disasters. I spoke about the design and development work I’ve been doing with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services and the ABA Center for Innovation, on an app to help
Prolonged Detention Stories is a website that humanizes, and makes interactive, a legal brief. It’s a simple and beautiful design, that lays out not only what legal arguments against prolonged detention are, but also puts human faces and scenarios on them. The group, a partnership of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and the
The Business Development Bank of Canada has an online simulation game that’s meant for training in Intellectual Property as applied to entrepreneurs. It’s not necessarily built to train lawyers, but more for anyone who works with/as an entrepreneur to help spot IP and other legal issues and get started on dealing with them. Here are the
I have been talking with lots of 2Ls, 3Ls, and newly minted JDs over the past year, about what other kinds of career tracks are open to young lawyers. I’ve been advising them not to take corporate jobs just to pay off debt or get experience (the default advice I was given coming out of
Here is a short set of notes that are slightly provocative, aimed at both law school leaders and faculty, and the students who are choosing whether and how to attend law school. The notes come from a discussion in my Intro to Legal Design course, in which visiting guests and the law students discussed the
The dean of Osgoode Law School in Toronto, Lorne Sossin, has an interesting new post out about the new roles of law schools in developing problem-solvers and social change. He sees the rise of the new labs, courses, and professional tracks in law schools that focus on innovation and technology as a promise for law
I’ve been reading Wharton professor Adam Grant’s recent book Originals, that documents how new ideas and products emerge out of staid industries and bureaucracies. There’s a central point that he makes which links straight back to design thinking: The systems we live in need questioning — they need people to ask “Why, Why, Why, Why?” They need
Today I had the pleasure of attending an exploratory meeting for a new initiative — the Global Legal Technology Lab. It’s a network of law schools, legal technology companies, and other organizations interested in pushing forward new innovations in the legal system — particularly around access to justice. It grew out of meetings at University
Thanks to Kursat Ozenc for this link to a 15 minute video from designer Daniel Orbach, called Design, The Law, and You. Daniel Orbach – Design, the Law, and You from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo. It’s from an Interaction Design conference that happened in March in Finland. Here’s the abstract of the video: As
I was lucky enough to go to Milan, Italy last month and participate in a judicial training there, where the topic was the potential of bringing technology into the legal system. One of the biggest initiatives being discussed was making legal documents and cases more machine-readable, interoperable, and ‘usable’ to court professionals and systems. Here
The Canadian Bar Association has published a new report, Do law differently: Futures for Young Lawyers. It dives into the big questions facing people with new JDs and an uncertain legal industry. With profiles of many lawyers who are taking new career tracks and building unique portfolios of work, the report lays out new opportunities
In my quest to find more data sources to promote access to justice, I sent out a few tweets with ideas. Twitter user Dominique Joseph sent along a link from an interesting initiative in the UK that is all about organizing, standardizing, and coordinating data sources to improve the criminal justice system for better user
After my latest post on coordinated foster youth care, Matthew Burnett of Immigrant Advocates Network forwarded me on a link to this innovative new case management platform: Case Commons. It is an attempt to build a user-centered system, that helps social service case workers and government workers be more coordinated and supportive of the people
Co/Counsel is a project to systematically map what the law is, and do it with a mix of experts and the crowds. It’s done by Kimball Parker, from the law firm Quinn Emmanuel. The only public-facing one right now is Patent Law, which is viewable either in column mode or in mind map.
Julia Wilson of OneJustice spoke at the UCHastings equal access to justice conference about the coming leadership shift in leadership of legal aid nonprofits. This can have big costs but also can be a great catalyst for more leadership training of lawyers who may be interested in executive tracks, and also to start reimagining
Some notes on innovation in law firms, based on a talk by Prof. Jonathan Molot of Georgetown Law, from the Thomson Reuters Law Firm Financial Performance Forum.
The generational gap and the drive for change in the legal profession This past weekend I was at the Canadian Bar Association annual conference, where the theme was building a better lawyer. My task was to run a workshop one morning with all of the attendees to explore how we might bridge the generational gap
Over at the Legal Design Toolbox (that I have slowly been building out with materials that I’ve been finding, using, and recommending in my own work), I have been building out a small typography of patterns for legal design & development. These are patterns of visuals, of interfaces, and of tools that can be used
Recently I was running a design workshop with several court administrators, including some who worked in it IT and others who oversaw more of the rule-making and administration of state courts. We ran through several exercises that scoped out ways to make their professional lives & work better — both for the litigants who use
What would a better legal brief look like? What would it be to submit writings for the judge’s consideration in ways that are more formally structured — so that these communications could: 1) be laid out systematically for the judge & her clerks (think in tables or side-by-side comparisons), 2) perhaps even made machine-readable (so
What would a good management system look like, for courts to assess their workflows & performance? James McMillan, John Matthias, and Matt Kleiman of the National Center on State Courts has a proposition — to use dashboards with lots of visual power to create a better way to see what’s really going on in a
The SF design & architecture consultancy Gensler has published its findings about the future of working in the legal world — specifically what the Legal Office of the Future will be. Gensler’s legal office of the future showcases the design and technological elements that will encompass the legal office of the future in the decades
Code for America has launched an awards program to recognize great tech-based projects going on in US government agencies. There are still a few days to submit your application, to be eligible for an award & participation in the Code for America conference this autumn in the Bay Area. The Code for America Technology Awards
Two weeks ago I attended a few days of the Gruter Institute’s session on Law & Behavioral Sciences in Tahoe. I was quite excited to find Joshua Fairfield there, a law professor from Washington & Lee Law School, talking about exactly one of the problems that fascinates me (and that I’ll be working on next
Last week I heard a presentation from the K-12 Lab at Stanford’s d.school, all about how they are bringing in modes & mindsets of Hacking into elementary schools in the Bay Area. Hacking, not in the sense of coding software or circumventing security walls, as in creating small, nimble interventions in their school to try
I asked my Legal Design students what they think JD students should be learning right now in law schools, to prepare them for their future careers in the legal industry. Here’s what they said (in no particular order): Project Management Coding: how to do it, how to work with those who do it, how to
Rebecca Purdom of Vermont Law / Stanford Medical School examining factors of how law schools could be more innovative.
Some thoughts on a powerpoint from GWU Law Professor Susan Dudley.
I am at the Gruter Institute, learning about innovation in different industries. Here’s an interesting thought from the world of AI: Can we help people deal w) complex decisions & data by building smart ‘cognitive exoskeletons’? They would sense data points, learn their persons’ behavior & preferences, and be a custom filter and decision-making companion
Law firms need to be focused on Legal services as PROCESSES we can redesign, remix – these coreographies of service delivery. We can play with these new processes to change the tech, the staffing, the communications, etc.
It’s changing, as Seyfarth’s Steve Poor shows in this excellent slide about different phases law depts. staff & buy legal services.
Ron Dolin, discussing his recent paper on Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and how it may or may not apply to the legal industry.
How will corporate & consumer clients be shopping for legal services — what will they value & seek out?
A great slide from Ron Dolin, summing up some of the central problems to target in the legal industry.
From Stanford law school lunch talk today
I’m more than halfway through my first full-quarter class on Legal Design. I’ve built a website for the students, to have all the assignments & resources in one place. I haven’t it updated it much for the general public, with documentation of the students’ process and deliverables yet — but that will be coming soon.
Some more thoughts about law school’s role in the changing profession.
A great vision from Harvard professor David Wilkins about how law schools can encourage innovation in the profession.
Stanford professor Deborah Rhode on the future of law schools.
Harvard professor David Wilkins on how law schools need to be adapting, know more about the work and paths of lawyers today.
Susskind is presenting: Our legal system is out dated We are not ready for the huge increase in computing power We need to embrace technology, from a customer’s perspective
A big question from Avvo’s Mark Britton.
Trying to capture Ron Dolin’s comments on legal start-ups, working with engineers, and looking at data.
A sketch note from the Codex Future Law panel happening now.
Another sketch from today’s Future Law conference at Stanford.
Here are some of my sketchnotes from last Thursday’s Emerging Legal Tech Forum in NYC, at Thomson Reuters. These notes are from the talk by James Yoon, a partner at Wilson Sonsini & a patent litigator. It’s his observations about how technology can complement litigators’ work, and improve corporate clients’ understanding of what the litigators
Some insights delivered from the Emerging Legal Technology forum, from Ralph Baxter, Steve Poor, and Jim Yoon — lawyers who are all invested in changing law firms to be more innovative.
Another sketched out note from the Emerging Legal Technology Forum, this time about contract related legal tech, from Kingsley Martin.
Another sketchnote from the Emerging Legal Technology Forum, from Seyfarth Shaw’s Chairman Stephen Poor, about software they have developed in-house for their lawyers to use while going through cases.
Today I am at the Emerging Legal Technology Forum, put on by Thomson Reuters’ Legal Executive Institute and Stanford Law School. I will be sharing out my notes — here is my first, from a talk by Codex director Roland Vogl about the main camps of legal info solutions.
Today I kick off my first quarter-long class on design thinking for legal services — Intro to Legal Design, cross-listed under the Law School & the d.school. I have a long list of learning objectives & skills that I want the students to learn — but when I boil it down to the essentials, the
Igniting Law Teaching is a conference coming up on March 20th that will feature all kinds of legal educators presenting their insights & projects into how the law school experience can be improved. The conference happened last year as well — and all of the speakers’ individual videos are here for you to peruse. There’s
A sketch from my notebook on what it means to be a ‘Legal Designer’ — what the skillsets of such a new hybrid breed of legal professional should be. As I plan out my upcoming Intro to Legal Design class at Stanford Law School/d.school, I’m thinking a lot about what the ideal kind of training
ChartaCourse is a new tool from law professors that unpacks case books, and lays out interactive, visual concept maps of each law course’s content. It’s meant to replace case books. Rather than buy a book, students pay a subscription to access the courses and content. The product is from Mark Edwards, Professor of Law, William
Last weekend, I attended some sessions of a Design Symposium at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design. The topic was ‘Transition Design’ — how we as designers can plan for a rapidly changing society, as well as how we help individuals through challenging transitions in their own life stages & well-being. One of the speakers
I had written a short piece on the potential rise of crowdsourcing in legal investigations earlier in the year — and following up on that, Stanford Lawyer has asked four different criminal law specialists to weigh in with their thoughts on the topic. You can read their thoughts at this Up For Discussion piece over
I’m very excited for my quarter-long class, Intro to Legal Design, that’s going to be starting in April at Stanford d.school/Law School. Today was a recruiting event at the d.school, and it was interesting to see the diversity of students interested in the topic. A lot of business school students have interest in the field,
I’ve put together a new short questionnaire, on the topic of the increasingly-discussed ‘Generational Gap Among Lawyers’. I’m interested to hear your take on whether this gap exists, how important it actually is for the profession, and what we can do to bridge it. Leave your thoughts below, and I will package the responses up
Following up from my earlier post about making Visual cover-sheets for academic work, I was pointed toward this video blog from University of Alberta law professor Peter Sankoff. He has been making short (10 minutes & under) videos explaining different legal and teaching concepts. It’s another great multimedia form for getting content out to a
As I’ve been writing papers aimed for law journal publication, I keep coming back to my frustration that whatever I write for such a journal, it’s likely to be read so much less than a blog post. Maybe people will read the abstract, maybe some will scan through to find something of use to them,
CALI, or the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, created an online law game Time Trial. The game teaches the player legal history, by having them try to place events into the right timeline order. Each event is on its own card, and the user can turn over one card at a time, and then drag
Connected to my post last week on crowdsourcing legal investigations, I wanted to spotlight the possibility of using crowd support online to get attention, funding, and social capital for current cases. What would crowdfunding social justice campaigns, impact litigation, or just regular people’s lawsuits look like? And how could it operate in the most engaging
Kristina Brousalis tipped me off to this Canadian initiative at giving trainee lawyers ‘Tours of Duty’ through different parts of the legal profession. Legal Aid Ontario has a Lawyer Workforce Strategy, that invites both students and existing lawyers to take part in a tour through different types of legal jobs. This gives them a chance
Over winter break, I got through a stack of books — including two by Stanford Management Science & Engineering professor Bob Sutton. I read his new one with Huggy Rao, Scaling Up Excellence, and an older volume — The No Asshole Rule. In that book, Sutton calls out that certain type of professional who acts
Yesterday I went to a lunch at Stanford Law School on the podcast Serial, and the role of advocacy & the media in the legal system. My friend & collaborator Umbreen Bhatti was interviewing Rabia Choudry, who is the family friend of Adnan Syed who had brought his case to the radio journalist Sarah Koenig
Another fun little lightweight law game — this time from Koding Global Virtual Hackathon in December 2014. It’s called the TOS Game — it’s more of a live prototype now, hopefully built out into something proper soon!. It’s a very simple game: you the user must type contract provisions out correctly, to match the Terms
Immigration Advocates Network & Pro Bono Net released an app Immigo this year to serve advocates on the go. It is an app with 3 main functions: Listing out trainings and support events for legal professionals Providing links to nearby legal help centers that the advocate could contact or refer a client to; Curating a
I am on the hunt for law games that are scalable. I am trying to find a playable, even addictive, form of a legal education game — but also one that is easily scalable. What would the game pattern or template be, that we could plug in lots of different kinds of legal questions and
Here’s a quick concept design sketch I had made my last year of law school, about how Improv-based education could be integrated into a legal education. At Stanford University, the law school did allow law students during 2L and 3L to take a quarter-long improv class and get law school credit for it. I took
On his blog “the [non]billable hour”, legal consultant Matt Homann challenged law firms to design a more readable, engaging, client-centered bill for legal services. If your clients designed your bills, what would they look like? Would they be easier to understand? Contain useful case status information? How about upcoming dates or milestones? Would your bills include information about the
The State of California has a Pleading Bank that can be used by a licensed attorney to find sample, guiding documents to expedite her work. It links back to our earlier discussion on this site as to potential Form/Document sharing among legal professionals — as a model for Githubbing Legal Work Product among lawyers. It
What would a Github for Law look like? And is it worth building? This afternoon I got an email from a site visitor who asked if I knew of any projects in the works that stakes a Github for Lawyers out — and if there is a profitable business model in such an undertaking. Github
From WeHave the Future, in Veneto region of Northern Italy
David Johnson of New York Law School pointed me to Argz, a platform currently in development (and with Beta Release) to create a puzzle-game out of logic & critical thinking exercises. It’s intended to be used inside that law school’s classes. The site’s description of the Argz platform: Everyone knows how to argue — or
I’ve been looking around for different models of promoting entrepreneurship among JDs & young lawyers. There are a few interesting post-graduation incubators, that help recent law graduates get oriented and start their own practice. For example, Justice Entrepreneurs Project from the Chicago Bar Foundation. The JEP not only gives young lawyers training to start their
A concept design that came out of a legal workshop I ran last week among legal aid & self-help lawyers.
Oxford Law Map:: Law in Oxford. Oxford Law has published an interactive, color visual of the legal topics it offers for study. It is simple but shows the relationships & sizes of the offerings. Click on any of the visuals, and have quick links to more resources on those classes. It’s a simple & gorgeous
The Berkman Center & Jonathan Zittrain have long spoken about the need to disrupt how law students intake the law. Why do we have huge & costly textbooks, that professors typically use sparingly, with large parts to skip over, and with supplemental materials mixed in. The H2O project presents an alternative: professors and others can
Another sketch from last Friday’s Reinvent Law conference in NYC, that somehow didn’t manage to upload then (so here it is now!).
Many of my d.school Estate Plan redesign class groups are thinking about how to gamify estate planning — bringing some elements of game experience, like points, rewards, competition, and levels into the process. None are developing explicit games like Stephanie Kimbro’s Estate Quest project, but the spirit of games & storytelling are guiding many of
Stephanie Kimbro has posted on YouTube a preview of the legal game Estate Quest she & her team are designing, all on Estate Planning for consumers. Her summary: This is a demo of level one of Estate Quest. This will be a cross-platform video game to teach basic estate planning concepts. Players will win awards
The product of a slightly absurd lunchtime conversation with Manal.
TheFirstYear is an online platform with 1L law content. Anyone can sign up to access it — watch the videos, and take quizzes once they are made available. The platform is sponsored by Univ. of Utah’s College of Law. There are online classes for the standard law topics taught around the US in the first
At the Fwd.Us DREAMer hackathon last week, I was tremendously impressed with the team who made #Undoculife. It’s a web-based interactive game, featuring a main character who’s an undocumented immigrant in the US. It challenges the players to see life through the lens of an undocumented person, while also teaching them how to respond to
Ida Benedetto talks with the Open Law Lab about how she helps people understand issues of consequence through a combination of play and surprise. As a founder of Antidote Games, she develops diverse games for NGOs all over the world. She recently created a game, Accused, that gives players a taste of the police interrogation
I started programming law games in Summer 2012, when I went from just thinking about my idea of “Law Dojo” and making it real. Since then, I’ve gotten feedback from so many law students, professors & others, who see the *enormous* potential in using small, quick, smart games to get people empowered with law. David
I’m starting a series on lawyers who have figured out ways to integrate creativity & design into their professional life. Here is my first interview, with Jonathan Tobin, who heads up Counsel for Creators. He comes from a creative & design background, and has managed to bridge that into his legal practice. Would you describe
Thanks to Nikki for writing in to let me know about Antidote Games, a studio that produces complex interactive games, to build understanding & knowledge among the players. Some of their games concern health crises, disaster risk, and car safety. The studio also has one regarding law — The Accused. It’s a straightforward role-playing game
Stanford students & beyond are invited to come by Stanford’s d.school, to talk about projects in legal tech & design that they’re working on (or considering) — or just have some coffee & hang out. How to get to the d.school?
Here’s a short, unnarrated overview of legal tech tools from Legal Services NTAP that lawyers & others could use to organize their projects, do better research, work on the road, take notes, use visuals, create media, analyze data, and use all the tech they already have in better ways. 50 Tech Tips 2013 EJC from
It’s great to see another law school going in the direction of building new generations of legal products, and training a new generation of legal designers & technologists. Along with Michigan State Law’s ReInvent Law lab, and the Law Without Walls inter-law school program, (not to mention my own upcoming Stanford d.school-law fellowship this year),
A delightful little video, complete with terrifically basic MSPaint illustrations and low-fi lego recreations of Hearsay Exception situations. I see an entire Bar Exam prep course in this vein. Here’s a little more YouTube-pop song, with Miley Cyrus inspiration. And to conclude, a Hearsay rap.
Demetri Martin went to NYU Law before dropping out in his 2nd year, then going on to stand-up comedy, writing books, and his own show on Comedy Central. Some law school redesign…
I have been studying for the California Bar for the past month. It feels nice to actually learn concrete laws, but the overall prep experience leaves much to be desired — and to be re-conceived. One fellow Bar-studier sent me an entreaty to take on Bar Prep — some alternative to watching videos of law
A small illustration of a truism that is floating around, in answer to the title question.
A quick sketch of a concept for wearable law… Of course fictional now, but only slightly tongue-in-cheek…
After a recent comment from the wonderful Peter Lederer about the challenge of building new models of law schools and legal professional training, I got some fresh inspiration from an article by Paul Lippe on the Legal Rebels blog on the ABA’s website. In his response to Richard Susskind’s book Tomorrow’s Lawyers, an Introduction to
Jureeka is a browser tool that will transform any legal citation you come across as you browse, into a hyperlinked legal citation. It was created by Michael Poulshock is sponsored now by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School — and more for Mozilla Firefox & Google Chrome users than other browser-users. Jureeka! turns
The Lawyerist published a review of a new app — JuryPad — for lawyers to help them manage the jury-selection process, proceed through voir dire, and pick a better jury. It also name-checks a few other apps for practicing trial lawyers, that also may be worth checking out (though all fairly pricey). TranscriptPad helps the
More wonderful insights into how citizens called to be jurors experience the court system in the UK — from the RED project, by the Design Council —read more, http://www.designcouncil.info/mt/RED/citizenship/.
Great, rich, human insights into how citizens called to be jurors experience the court system in the UK — from the RED project, by the Design Council —read more, http://www.designcouncil.info/mt/RED/citizenship/.
Great, rich user insights about Citizenship and people’s relationships with the government, from the Red – Touching the State project http://www.designcouncil.info/mt/RED/citizenship/
RED was a UK initiative that was operational between 2004 and 2006. It was set up by the Design Council in the UK, to tackle public policy, social, and economic issues through design-driven innovation. Its themes included health, aging, energy, democracy, and — of interest to this project — Citizenship. They summarize their initiative as
So I have been building legal quiz apps, for law students & non-lawyers. Now I need feedback, to take them to the next level! If you have the time or inclination, I invite you to download (for free!) my Law School Dojo app for your iOS or Android device. Links are here: http://lawschooldojo.com . Then
from a talk by Alex MacGillivray, general counsel of Twitter from http://razblint.com
Blake Masters: Pass the CA Bar Exam in 100 Hours blakemasters: I passed the July 2012 California Bar Exam by studying for 100 hours—no more than 5 hours per day between July 1st and July 24th. My approach may not be appropriate for everybody. But here are some details nonetheless; hopefully they will help some
what to do for a tax break? institute mandatory uniforms at law firms. deductions, deductions, deductions!
I just made a second law school quiz app — this time on the specific topic of Civil Procedure. It’s Law School Dojo: Civ Pro, now out on Android and on iOS! This app is built especially for students who are studying Civil Procedure. I wrote over 300 questions on cases, doctrine, vocabulary, and other
I have recently begun to play around with coding apps, and for my first real venture, I decided to code up a quiz app with all the things I wish I had known before law school — and make it into a quick, playful, lively game. I have the first version up for Android on
There are a host of apps (some free, some paid) for studying law. Most are oriented towards preparing for law bar exams, but they can be useful more widely in law classes. Barbri offers a free app BARBRI Challenge, with multiple choice quiz on law topics that are on the bar. There is BarMax MPRE,