Legal Engineers: An Emerging Profession For Law Students With a Talent For Tech
The concept of legal engineers was first introduced by Richard Susskind in his book ‘The End of Lawyers?’. He correctly predicted the rising need for a new role in law firms that combine legal knowledge with technological prowess. The legal industry has become extremely competitive and traditional ways of doing things are just not cutting it anymore. Clients now prefer firms that provide additional value in terms of innovative solutions and efficiency driven by technology.
The role of a legal engineer is to interface between legal and technology professionals to build software to interpret, enforce, or prove compliance with the law.1 Generally, there are two routes into this role: the legal route and the tech route. Some legal engineers are developers or data scientists with a knowledge of the legal process. More commonly, they are lawyers or ex-lawyers with developed technical skills looking to automate legal processes they were originally trained to do manually. Whatever route you choose to take, it will involve a deep knowledge of both technology and legal processes and a willingness to drive innovation, efficiency and process improvement.
Legal engineers use their legal knowledge and technological know-how to optimise existing products, services and processes but also to create new solutions to specific problems faced by clients, using a combination of technology and tools.2 The role of a legal engineer is still new, which allows graduates to carve their own career path unburdened by the traditional routes established for more conventional lawyers.
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Simon, a legal engineer at Pinsent Masons shares that a typical day as a legal engineer can involve working directly with lawyers to identify, design and setup technology solutions, provide data analysis and reporting services, or advise on technology solutions and best practice. He says that no two days are the same because the problem or challenge is always slightly different.3
An individual with an analytical mind that can come up with technically creative solutions and explain it in an easy-to-understand manner, and an aptitude for using technology to solve problems. If this sounds like you, there is a chance you may be suited to a career as a legal engineer. There are currently few law graduates with the technological capability required to be a legal engineer. If you want to stand out from the crowd, consider learning foundational computing subjects such as system design, programming, and coding. There are a lot of free courses on the internet to get you started.
For exciting roles in the legal tech space visit the Legists job board here.
Sources used to write this article
- Ciara Byrne, ‘Don’t Call Me a Lawyer—I Am a “Legal Engineer”’ (Fast Company 11 July 2019) <https://www.fastcompany.com/90372705/dont-call-me-a-lawyer-i-am-a-legal-engineer#:~:text=More%20generally%2C%20the%20role%20of%20the%20legal%20engineer,scientists%20who%20developed%20an%20interest%20in%20legal%20processes.>
- Stuart Barr, ‘The Rise of the Legal Engineer’ (Lexology27 July 2016) <https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=f8d9bb92-3779-4bc2-9f1b-7354d416acb1>
- ‘Legal Engineers’ (Pinsent Masons 4 March 2022) <https://www.pinsentmasons.com/careers/graduate/blog/legal-engineers>