By Dr. Alison Becker
Department Chair, Legal Studies
It’s not unusual for the public to conjure up images of law firms as stuffy, old offices filled with lawyers, paralegals, and secretaries who are surrounded by mounds of paper case files and huge, dusty books. It’s true that law offices have fit that mold pretty strictly for well over a century.
But especially now in this digital era, technology – along with the acknowledgement that many Americans do not have affordable access to legal help when they need it – is driving change within the legal community. In fact, legal technology is a major area of interest for venture capitalists looking to invest their money.
To help our legal studies students prepare for the demands of the modernizing legal industry, our Legal Studies department recently launched four new courses. These courses are intended to help widen students’ understanding of what happens within the legal industry, especially within 21st-century contexts.
Two New Legal Studies Courses Will Help Students Stay Up to Date with Technological Needs
Two of our newest University courses are intended to help students to remain up to date with the legal industry’s technological needs. For instance, the class “Introduction to Legal Technology” (LSTD 211) is designed to give bachelor’s degree students an orientation on some of the common kinds of software being used in different aspects of legal practice.
Students taking this class will gain the basic skills regarding how legal technology is used in court systems, law offices and the course of a case. Ethical, privacy and information technology security concerns about legal technology’s use will also be covered in this course. This course is now one of the major requirements for the legal studies bachelor’s degree.
Another course being offered to bachelor’s students is “Legal Technology: eDiscovery” (LSTD454). Electronic discovery (eDiscovery) is a major – and complex – component of modern litigation, both in civil and criminal cases. Knowing how electronic information is managed before and during litigation is as essential for non-lawyer legal professionals as it is for attorneys.
The actual eDiscovery work is usually done by non-attorneys while the lawyers supervise it to ensure its legality. In this class, students will learn about eDiscovery’s key concepts and how to manage eDiscovery projects.
In addition, students will become familiar with how to identify, collect, preserve, manage, review, and produce electronically stored information (ESI) during the discovery phase of the litigation process. This class is ideal for bachelor’s students who want to investigate the civil litigation, criminal litigation or eDiscovery legal tech industries.
Additional Legal Studies Courses: Basic Contracts Law and an Associate Seminar Class
In addition to the legal studies technology courses, we have added two other classes. One of them, “Basic Contracts Law” (LSTD212), exists to help associate degree students understand the foundational structure of contracts law. It has been designed especially for people who want to learn what contracts are at their most basic level and how the law applies to those contracts.
In this course, students will explore the processes of how contracts are formed and enforced. They will also learn the basics of how to write contracts and negotiate changes to them, as well as how to create remedies for when things go wrong. The knowledge gained from this class can be useful for understanding personal contracts, such as those contracts used for buying a car or a home.
In addition, this class also serves as a springboard to more advanced courses, like those offered by the University’s Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business. These courses are designed to help prepare students to pursue contracts-related interests in areas such as government and business. Furthermore, the Basic Contracts Law course is one of the classes offered for the Legal Entrepreneurism and Legal Office Administration concentrations in our online bachelor of science in legal studies.
Another class, “Sophomore Seminar in Legal Studies” (LTSD298), is the new final course for the legal studies associate degree. Freshly redesigned to highlight the modern features of legal work, this class replaces its predecessor (LSTD299 Sophomore Seminar in Paralegal Studies). This course exists to help soon-to-be graduating students pull together all that they’ve learned throughout their studies.
Related link: Creating the Strongest Possible Law School Application
Contact Us for More Information on These New Legal Studies Courses
I’m grateful for all of the work that our faculty has done to keep our legal studies courses relevant. We remain dedicated to providing our students with the theoretical and practical knowledge they’ll need as they prepare for the future.
That work includes helping to prepare our students to support society’s needs legally and ethically, both now and within the foreseeable future. Please come and check out these new courses for yourself.