Train Now, Link Later: Linklaters’ training curriculum gets a legal tech update

April 1, 2020

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Linklaters has partnered with Swansea University to create a course based on legal technology for its trainees.

What does this mean?

The firm will start to offer this course to its latest intake of trainees, who joined the firm in August 2019, with plans to extend the legal tech curriculum as an official part of its training contract.

This initiative was developed after the firm’s stakeholders and associates identified the ability to use legal tech and understanding how it should be utilised in legal matters as a key skill for future lawyers.

Linklaters’ global head of learning and development, Patrick McCann, expressed the importance of partnering with an academic institution to create the course. Prior to the creation of the course, the firm sent two associates to attend Swansea University’s week-long legal tech course to gain further knowledge.

A team consisting of representatives from Linklaters and Swansea University then developed a series of six modules tailored to the firm, including “Law and AI”, “Blockchain and Smart Contracts and Technology”’ and “Law and Ethics”, which will be run alongside academics. 

This new programme will run from April, with a similar scheme to launch in Germany.

What's the big picture effect?

Law firms are increasingly changing the way training contracts are structured and the skills trainees must develop, with a greater emphasis on legal tech.

Linklaters’ current initiative follows those of several other firms, all of which are concentrating on legal tech and promoting knowledge and skills around key areas such as AI and blockchain. For example, fellow magic circle firm Clifford Chance has launched “Ignite”. This scheme builds upon its traditional training programme and is geared towards trainees with an interest in law and tech. It focuses on digitalisation, encouraging trainees to find solutions based on the implementation of tech within the firm’s practice. Earlier this year, international firm Dentons also revised its training contract, through which trainees will learn about topics such as smart contracts, AI and legal project management. 

For prospective trainees, this opens up an exciting new path, as law firms and other businesses work to adapt in an area of digitalisation. Legal tech initiatives present a variety of options and can serve as a point of differentiation between firms and the training experience they offer.

From a commercial perspective, firms need to ramp up their tech capabilities to maintain both their relevance and their position in the current market place. As clients move to improve their own tech capabilities, they will expect firms to do the same. This is crucial due to rising competition from alternative legal service providers, who have been faster to incorporate technology into their service. Building on internal tech capabilities by instilling this teaching in training contracts is a good way for firms to show that they are prioritising this, and ensuring that future lawyers are equipped with essential skills. 

Thus Linklaters’ move echoes a wider shift in the legal marketplace and is a signal for what future trainees can expect, as well as the knowledge and capabilities they can, and should, cultivate.

Report written by Laila Khan

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