19 January 2011
UCL Laws student Anna Pope reports on the innovative launch event for LawWithoutWalls, hosted on 15 and 16 January by the Faculty of Laws at UCL – the only UK university involved in the international teaching project.
“LawWithoutWalls is like stone soup,” explained Michele DeStefano Beardslee, Associate Professor at University of Miami School of Law (and catalyst for the project), in her opening remarks to participants at the LawWithoutWalls (LWOW) launch event at UCL. “We are all bringing what we have … and putting it in the pot.” Her statements sum up one of the fundamental principles of LawWithoutWalls: collaboration.
For LawWithoutWalls, collaboration means bringing together 22 students from six universities and three continents to embrace the potential for innovating and rethinking legal education and practice. As Trish White, Dean of the University of Miami School of Law explained, the purpose of LawWithoutWalls is to “think collaboratively, broadly and collectively”.
The launch event marked the start of a three-month programme where participating students will each consider an innovative solution to a current issue in either legal education or practice.
During this time, students will meet for weekly virtual teaching sessions (using Adobe Connect) and be supported by academic and practitioner mentors. The programme will culminate in the presentation of the students’ solutions to their given research issue at a ConPosium hosted by the University of Miami School of Law in April 2011.
During the course of the UCL kick-off event, LWOW students were privileged to be joined by leading academics, practitioners and entrepreneurs who had travelled from all over the world to help investigate ways in which we can break down barriers to innovation and embrace technology to further the provision of legal services and education.
As Professor Richard Susskind (University of Strathclyde) explained on the first day of the event: “there are emerging better and more efficient techniques of delivering legal services” and he urged the legal profession, as others have done, to embrace them. That said, there was a palpable sigh of relief amongst the audience of law students when he emphasised the question mark in the title to his most recent book The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services.
Two panel discussions gave the opportunity for engaging debate on topics central to the LawWithoutWalls experience. During the first discussion, a panel of esteemed academics addressed the ‘Current and Future State of Legal Education and Practice in the US and UK’ whilst in the second, leading global entrepreneurs considered ‘Entrepreneurship, Legal Practice, and Rules of Success for Legal Start-Ups’. Both discussions provided an invaluable insight into the benefits of learning from the experiences of different disciplines and jurisdictions when considering any new legal venture or related issue.
Throughout the launch weekend, students had the rare opportunity to collaborate with, and gain insight from, preeminent academics, practitioners and entrepreneurs whilst meeting the LawWithoutWalls colleagues with whom they will be working over the next few months. As Donal Byrne (Chief Executive Officer, Corvil) explained during the entrepreneurs’ panel discussion, passion and commitment are central to the success of any entrepreneurial activity. To this end, LWOW got off to a very promising start.”
Images: Jacqui Kinghan, UCL Laws academic lead for LawWithoutWalls, and Professor Richard Susskind, who spoke at the launch
The Faculty of Laws at UCL has a world-class reputation for research. We value research not only in contributing to the quality of our teaching and the supervision we give our research students, but also in its contribution to the development of law and its influence on legal practice and public policy.