The University of Newcastle and Sparke Helmore Lawyers have partnered to delve into the future of law students and lawyers.
The Legal Design and Innovation Project is a research partnership that will explore the intersection between law, design and technology, and what digital disruption means for the future of the industry.
The project aims to connect students, academics and the legal industry with the needs of the people who interface with the legal system using human-centred design practices.
Sparke Helmore’s Director of Know-How, Sonja Swansborough leads the firm’s involvement with the project.
“We revel in opportunities such as this; to have a positive impact on the future of the legal profession. Sparke Helmore has an exceptional resource of forward-thinking lawyers and we are constantly looking at ways to advance, improve and future-proof our systems and processes. It makes a lot of sense for us to be involved in this project,” Sonja said.
The firm’s Local Managing Partner in Newcastle, Greg Guest said it’s great to be a part of something that truly aligns to the business’ values and vision and that also comes out of our firm’s home town.
“We have such a rich history in Newcastle, which we’re very proud of, but we also love being involved in the future of the city and the innumerable exciting projects that start here,” Greg said.
The project will be run out of the university’s NewSpace. Headed up by Professor Lisa Toohey and Conjoint Associate Professor Sara Rayment, the project focuses on better understanding the nature of legal innovation, including how the mindsets of lawyers impact these developments, how new technologies (such as artificial intelligence) can make the law more or less accessible and how the legal system as a whole can facilitate user-friendly innovation.
“We are very proud to partner with Sparke Helmore on this cutting-edge research project,” Lisa said.
“The Australian legal sector is just beginning to understand the future technological challenges facing the profession, but the real question is how to meet those challenges while simultaneously delivering better access to justice. We are focusing on the important pre-condition for successfully integrating technology into legal practice—the innovation and design process.
“Newcastle Law School is already helping our students develop an innovative mindset, cementing our reputation as a leader in clinical legal education. This partnership will give our students the opportunity to apply their skills to real-world innovation case studies.”
The official launch of the Legal Design and Innovation Project took place in Newcastle in November.
IMAGE | The ribbon cutting to open the Legal Design & Innovation Centre. From left to right: Professor Tania Sourdin Dean of the Law School; Phillip Salem, National Managing Partner of Sparke Helmore; the Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes; Conjoint Associate Professor Sara Rayment; leader of the project Professor Lisa Toohey; and Director of Know How at Sparke Helmore Sonja Swansborough.
Sparke Helmore Lawyers has a client first approach to everything we do. It is a firm with more than 800 people working from nine offices across Australia, serving the needs of the insurance, government, financial services, technology, mining, construction and property sectors. The team's expertise spans corporate and commercial to construction, workplace to insurance, IP to IPOs, mining to manufacturing, and property to procurement.