A Policy Agenda for Legal Education and Training and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Case of England and Wales
AbstractWhile the full impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution remains uncertain, it is by now generally accepted that highly intelligent technologies and their applications – such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, digitialisation, and big Data – will continue to fundamentally transform all aspects of our occupational and personal lives. Yet, in the realm of higher education policy and specifically with regard to non-STEM disciplines like law, thorough-going engagement with this most recent wave of technological development remains lacking. It is the aim of this article to set a policy agenda for legal education and training that is sensitive to the opportunities and potential negative outfall of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (now exacerbated by COVID-19), while also taking into consideration the distinctive nature of legal education and training in England and Wales. Set against the higher education policy landscape of England and Wales, a number of concrete recommendations are made for bringing legal education and training into the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These include, for example, a call for the radical transformation of the traditional, linear, and monodisciplinary LLB degree, addressing current and projected skills gaps and skills shortages by way of, inter alia, curriculum reform, and working towards greater mobility of law graduates between different legal jurisdictions and also within one jurisdiction but amongst different roles. These changes are necessary as legal education and training in England and Wales currently leave law graduates ill-equipped for the future labour market and do not adequately value and build on the job-tasks that legal professionals uniquely supply.
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