The MIT School of Law? A Perspective on Legal Education in the 21st Century (Forthcoming in Illinois Law Review)

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 10.58.06 PMABSTRACT:  “Despite some of the blustery rhetoric attendant to the ongoing market transition, lawyers and the market for legal services are not going away. Lawyers serve integral roles in a wide variety of social and political systems. Their work supports the proper functioning of markets and helps individuals and organizations vindicate their respective rights. At the same time, the processes associated with completing their work—as well as the contours of their respective expertise and judgment—are already changing. These changes are being driven by a number of economic and technological trends, many of which Larry Ribstein identified in a series of important articles published in the years before his untimely death.

This Essay is offered as part of a symposium honoring the work of the late Larry Ribstein. It is a thought exercise about a hypothetical MIT School of Law—an institution with the type of curriculum that might help prepare students to have the appropriate level of substantive legal expertise and other useful skills that will allow them to deliver value to their clients as well as develop and administer the rules governing markets, politics, and society as we move further into the 21st Century. It is a blueprint based upon the best available information, and like any other plan of action would need to be modified to take stock of shifting realities over time. It is not a solution for all of legal education. Instead, it is a targeted description of an institution and its substantive content that could compete very favorably in the existing and future market. It is a depiction of an institution whose students would arguably be in high demand. It is a high-level sketch of an institution that would be substantively relevant, appropriately practical, theoretically rigorous and world class.

Part I offers an introduction to the question. Part II sets the stage by highlighting several recent trends in the market for legal services. Taking stock of those trends, Part III highlights an alternative paradigm for legal education and describes the polytechnic style of legal education that students might obtain at an MIT School of Law. Part IV carries through on that basic thought experiment by describing the process of attracting, training, and placing students that would occur at MIT Law. Part V provides some concluding thoughts.”

Available at: Daniel Martin Katz, The MIT School of Law: A Perspective on Legal Education in the 21st Century, 2014 Illinois L. Rev (Forthcoming)

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Announcing the All New LexPredict FantasySCOTUS – (Sponsored By Thomson Reuters)

LexPredictToday I am excited to announce that LexPredict has now launched the all new FantasySCOTUS under the direction of Michael J. Bommarito II, Daniel Martin Katz and Josh Blackman.

FantasySCOTUS is the leading Supreme Court Fantasy League. Thousands of attorneys, law students, and other avid Supreme Court followers make predictions about cases before the Supreme Court. Participation is FREE and Supreme Court geeks can win cash prizes up to $10,000 (many other prizes as well — thanks to the generous support of Thomson Reuters).

We hope to launch additional functionality soon but we are now live and ready to accept your predictions for the 2014-2015 Supreme Court Term!

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The Utility of Text: The Case of Amicus Briefs and the Supreme Court (by Yanchuan Sim, Bryan Routledge & Noah A. Smith)

From the Abstract: “We explore the idea that authoring a piece of text is an act of maximizing one’s expected utility. To make this idea concrete, we consider the societally important decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. Extensive past work in quantitative political science provides a framework for empirically modeling the decisions of justices and how they relate to text. We incorporate into such a model texts authored by amici curiae (“friends of the court” separate from the litigants) who seek to weigh in on the decision, then explicitly model their goals in a random utility model. We demonstrate the benefits of this approach in improved vote prediction and the ability to perform counterfactual analysis.  (HT: R.C. Richards from Legal Informatics Blog)

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Five Observations Regarding Technology and the Legal Industry – My Keynote Presentation at Legal Week Global Corporate Counsel Forum – NYC 2014

It has been an exciting few days here in NYC as I was able to speak at the Legal Week Global Corporate Counsel Forum and also attend part of the IBM Watson launch at 51 Astor Place in NYC.

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Now You Can Meet–And Talk To–Yourself 20 Years Into The Future (via Fast Company)


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10 Predictions About How IBM’s Watson Will Impact the Legal Profession


I enjoyed collaborating with Paul Lippe for this short article in the ABA Journal New Normal column. We make 10 predictions about Watson’s application into the legal industry (some short term and some longer term) and preview some of our specific collaboration applying IBM Watson in the legal industry. Suffice to say there is much more to come …

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14th FRAP – Finance, Risk and Accounting Management Perspectives Conference @ Oriel College – Oxford

Tomorrow I will presenting initial results for my new project called ‘Law on the Market’ (co-authored with Jim Chen, Michael Bommarito & Tyler Soellinger) at the Oxford FRAP Finance Conference at Oriel College!

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Code the Deal – A Transactional Legal Hackathon

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Quantifying the Benefits of Vehicle Pooling with Shareability Networks (via PNAS)

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Coding for Lawyers – A Free Online Textbook
(By V. David Zvenyach)

Coding for Lawyers

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Navdy (An Aftermarket Heads Up Display)

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Design Thinking for Legal Services (via Josh Kubicki)

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Sheila Kennedy – Legal Operations – A Room with a View (via ReInventLaw

Watch More Videos at

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Your Brain on Metaphors (via The Chronicle Review)

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The Takeaway Job Fair: So You Want To Be a Lawyer?

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Law 2050 – A Forum about the Legal Future (via JB Ruhl @ Vanderbilt Law)

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.47.19 AMLaw 2050 is a blog operated by J.B. Ruhl from Vanderbilt Law School in conjunction with his course on legal futurism offered to 2L + 3L students @ Vandy.  There are two major classes of legal futurism and J.B.’s course does a nice of covering both.

First, there are changes in the world that require lawyers, judges, lawmakers, etc. to develop new legal rules to take stock of shifting realities over time.  Driverless cars and drones, 3-D printing, the internet of things, humans living until age 120, climate change, augmented reality and many other related innovations/developments will transform society. Law schools must produce agile and creative lawyers who can craft appropriate solutions to these developments (as they come online).  Lawyers who are able to operate in such ever changing environments are the true value creators whose bespoke expertise will *never* be subjected to automation, etc.

Changes in way the lawyer work is the other class of changes for which we must prepare our students. Technology, design thinking, process engineering (lean six sigma, etc.), analytics, outsourcing, etc. have already changed and will continue to modify the legal production function.  Law’s information revolution will continue to unfold and creep up the value chain.  Organizing / managing / participating in this unfolding dynamic is also a form of bespoke activity. Unfortunately for many students at many schools, it has received very little (typically zero) curricular coverage (with MSU (and Vandy) excluded).

Students in J.B. Ruhl’s Law 2050 course are extremely lucky as they get the opportunity — while in law school — to consider how they fit into one or both of these forms of legal futurism.

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