Law Courses Recognized for Innovation


Student Experience AI Awards Faculty Technology

A course at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, AI and Legal Reasoning, garnered a finalist spot in the Bloomberg Law School Innovation Program for 2023 — 2024. Three more courses: Writing for the Court, Writing for Practice, and the CS + Innovation Lab each earned Honorable Mention. The finalists were selected for innovation, impact on students, ability to advance the legal industry, and replicability.

AI and Legal Reasoning, a course created and taught by Daniel W. Linna Jr., Senior Lecturer and Director of Law and Technology Initiatives, provides students with a functional understanding of artificial intelligence and is a finalist in the Beyond the Law category. The course immerses students in activities and exercises to deconstruct how lawyers deliver legal services, how technology can automate and augment tasks, and the roles in which humans will flourish as the legal landscape is transformed. “There is a strong interest in AI and analytics, and this is a rigorous course that pushes students to consider the quality and efficiency of legal-services delivery, including how technology can be used to increase access to justice,” Linna said. “Students learn how AI and analytics can be used to generate high-quality outputs and make predictions about a course of action. By understanding the capabilities, benefits, and risks of computational tools, students better understand the skills that they will need to be effective in the future and the types of judgment they will need to exercise to be excellent lawyers, as legal roles change.”

Linna created the course with two primary goals in mind: preparing law students for the future of law practice, including in large law firms; and training law students to design, develop, and validate computational technologies, including self-help tools, to increase access to law, legal services, and justice.

Writing for the Court, received an Honorable Mention in the Career Pathing category. Janet Siegel Brown, Lecturer and Director of Judicial Clerkships, has been teaching the course for more than a decade and said it fills a critical gap in preparing students to work as judicial clerks in a realistic way by having them draft bench memos and opinions in real cases. “The most impactful aspect of the course is its reliance on pending cases used in real time to provide students with a realistic experience similar to what they will encounter in a judge’s chambers,” Brown said. “It allows them to experience the array of litigation issues and strategies—and errors—found in real briefs and oral arguments, and grapple with them to craft a recommendation and a decision.”

The students receive rigorous, detailed feedback from Brown following submission of their memo and appellate opinion. Then, the students receive the ultimate feedback on their writing when they are able to compare their opinions against the ones the court issues.

Writing for Practice also received an Honorable Mention in the Career Pathing category. Meredith Geller, Director of the Writing Lab and Clinical Professor of Law, created the course to introduce students to a variety of documents that are common in a civil law firm setting but not typically covered in first-year courses. “One of my first memories as a practicing attorney was getting what were supposed to be ‘simple’ assignments to create documents that I had never seen before,” said Geller. “I had a lot of experience with trial documents and briefs, but I’d never seen a deposition summary. Also, I was unprepared for how short the documents were supposed to be…learning to be concise was a struggle.”

As part of the class, students draft multiple practice documents including inter-office and file memos, deposition summaries, and client correspondence. In preparation for the collaborative nature of law practice, students also engage in peer editing to polish and perfect their work.

“Congratulations to Professor Linna, Professor Brown, and Professor Geller for this extremely well-deserved recognition of their innovative teaching that helps prepare our students to lead at this time of change,” said Dean Hari Osofsky. “Professor Linna’s course on AI and Legal Reasoning provides important critical engagement with emerging technology, Professor Brown’s course on Writing for the Court prepares students to be effective law clerks, and Professor Geller’s Writing for Practice equips students to excel in practice. I am grateful for all that they contribute.”

In its second year, Bloomberg Law School Innovation Program recognizes law schools for implementing innovative programs into curricula that also advance new methodologies and approaches to legal education.