Cornell Tech has partnered with Cornell Law School to launch a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in law, technology and entrepreneurship as the demand for lawyers with a deep understanding of technology becomes ever more prevalent and the number of law schools teaching the subject grows.

With the first students set to enrol in 2016, the one-year, full-time LLM degree at Cornell Tech has been specifically designed to provide practising lawyers and recent law graduates with the skills needed to support and lead technology companies.

“The digital economy has raised huge societal, policy and legal questions that traditional law programs simply aren’t designed to address,” said Cornell Tech Dean, Dan Huttenlocher.

“This groundbreaking LLM program is the first of its kind to give lawyers the tools to be entrepreneurial thinkers, supporting technology startups, product development and the fast-paced growth that is driving the economy.”

A number of leading law schools in the US already provide their students with significant technology training as the demand for hybrid lawyers and technologists increases.

At Chicago-Kent College of Law, Professor Ronald Staudt, director of the Center for Access to Justice & Technology, has for around six years taught the Justice and Technology Practicum, which offers Chicago-Kent students an opportunity to gain experience with document assembly and automation tools. Students partner with an organisation that has identified a need to automate a document and use HotDocs templates to build a solution.

Professor Staudt told Legal IT Insider: “We think that the opportunities for people with more qualitative skills and the ability to navigate the technology space will be richer and there will be more opportunities. Clients are increasingly working in those spaces and it is extraordinarily valuable to understand the client’s business.”

Chicago-Kent partners with Georgetown Law Center, where Professor Tanina Rostain, co-director for the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession has since 2012 run a 13-week course called Technology, Innovation and Legal Practice, in which student teams, collaborating with legal service providers, build apps that expand access to justice.

The legal tools that students build incorporate Neota Logic automation applications and are used by organisations from civil rights movements to direct providers of legal services to the US Government. Examples include an app for social workers who look after the elderly, enabling them to easily put people in their care in touch with the right legal services.

Professor Rostain said: “Some students go into law firm practice but become very good translators between the IT department and lawyers.”

Speaking of the new course at Cornell Tech, Cornell Law Dean Eduardo Peñalver said: “The rapid pace of innovation driving the technology sector today requires a new generation of lawyers with expertise in law, technology, and entrepreneurship.

“The goal of the LLM will be to educate this new generation with the cutting-edge lawyering skills and the business acumen necessary to become first-class attorneys working at the forefront of an entrepreneurial economy.”