Almost 500 participants attended the first two online modules by the Oxford LawTech Education Programme. Based on their large-scale interdisciplinary research and cross-departmental education in Law and Computer Science, the Oxford academics are helping the legal sector to fill the gaps in their knowledge and skills in order to accelerate the uptake of technology in the provision of legal services.

The first module ‘Digital Literacy: Law and Computer Science’ was piloted in collaboration with a leading law firm Slaughter and May. Slaughter and May is also a project partner for the Unlocking the Potential of Artificial Intelligence for English Law project which will be culminating next calendar year. In collaboration with the law firm, the Oxford team delivered a three-week series in November and December aimed at bridging the mindset gaps between lawyers and IT specialists in the firm.

'I liked the pace and the balance between using academic sources, theoretical puzzles (well I found them puzzling and interestingly challenging) and practical examples' — participant feedback, Slaughter and May

As one participant noted, their biggest takeaway was ‘thinking about how to combine the power of CS's and lawyers effectively to deal with new challenges’. Others praised ‘the pace and the balance between using academic sources, theoretical puzzles (well I found them puzzling and interestingly challenging) and practical examples’. ‘The myth busting and no nonsense approach’ was also highly appreciated, according to the feedback.

Each unit of the tri-partite module included multiple self-paced learning elements including on-demand video materials and a live session once per week chaired by the partner organisation and structured around most popular pre-submitted questions and themes from online interactive exercises.

The second, similarly structured module ‘The GLD AI University’ comprised four units and was run for two weeks at the end of November. This module was piloted with the Government Legal Department (GLD) and also received very positive feedback, not least because of the pedagogical quality and topical content—the units covered a primer to AI for public lawyers, algorithmic decision-making and public law, algorithmic management and discrimination, and digital ethics—but also because of the unique method of delivery which kept the attendees engaged throughout the series. The final live Q&A with all four speakers from the Oxford University and a chair from the GLD brought in nearly 100 participants.

'It’s proved to be a very positive initial partnership' — Ruth Ward, Director of Knowledge, GLD

The GLD's Director of Knowledge, Ruth Ward, commented on the pilot: 'We began this engagement with the University of Oxford due to their involvement in the "AI for English Law" research project and their commitment to a cross-departmental educational approach. It’s proved to be a very positive initial partnership. Our joint planning teams worked well to re-imagine the pilot programme, revising it for 100% online delivery, and making the content as relevant and impactful as possible for GLD lawyers working with different government departments.'

To learn more about the Oxford LawTech Education Programme (OLTEP), please visit the OLTEP website.