New course for legal professionals on cutting-edge of law and AI

Digital Law and Innovation Society partners with Faculty of Extension and AI4Society

Sarah Kent - 25 October 2021

The Digital Law and Innovation Society at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law wants lawyers and law firms to be equipped with the right tools for the digital age, so it has partnered with AI4Society and the Faculty of Extension to offer a new course for legal professionals.

“The Digital Law Primers are courses to support legal professionals in seeing past the hype to understand how digital technologies already affect their practice, their clients and how they can respond,” said Hero Laird, ‘22 JD, president of DLIS.

From legal research and analysis to discovery and memo writing, AI is already being used in the legal field.

Even if it isn’t obvious to the user, AI is frequently used in devices, in data-use agreements (documents that transfer non-public records from government agencies or corporations), for apps, and for software-as-a-service (such as personal finance tools or other software applications delivered to users via the internet), said Laird.

“The goal is to provide legal professionals with enough understanding to see the serious, often underappreciated issues that artificial intelligence, online assets, and other technologies introduce into otherwise standard cases and business processes.”

The fall 2021 course, "AI & Your Legal Business: Artificial Intelligence and Its Implications for Legal Practice," launches November 6 and helps legal professionals assess if, and how, artificial intelligence can support their day-to-day work.

The course is taught by leading researchers in AI, including Professor Randy Goebel, Assistant Professor Mi-Young Kim, and postdoctoral fellow Juliano Rabelo, all of the Department of Computing Science at the U of A. Special guest lecturers include international experts in law and AI.

The course, delivered via pre-recorded lectures and live discussion-based sessions, runs from November 13 to 27 and is designed for working professionals. It is approved for 10 Continuing Professional Development hours in Ontario.

No technical background is required for the course, which will introduce participants to how AI methods are already being implemented in the legal field.

Artificial Intelligence

“Lawyers need to understand the implications of AI in order to know how best to serve their clients,” said Laird. “AI is not a niche area anymore. It affects all of our work because everyone relies on it, whether they know it or not.”

“Through case studies and real-life examples from international experts, participants will gain a factual understanding of ways that AI interferes with or impacts their clients and their work,” said Laird.

Laird hopes the biggest takeaway for legal professionals will be how to make smart choices about technology for their practice.

“Legal professionals need to introduce up-to-date technology into their firms to provide accessible, competent legal services,” they said. “Many vendors are attempting to fill this gap, and not all solutions are relevant, helpful, safe or well-priced.”

Future courses are also on the horizon. A second course is scheduled to launch in February 2022 and will address the legal issues that arise as a result of a client’s participation in the digital world.

Participants can register for the fall 2021 course through the Faculty of Extension. More information is also available on the Digital Law and Innovation Society’s website.