A new alliance has been launched to help universities and other legal training faculties teach their students about digital transformation, with over 15 universities across Europe and South America already signed up to the network, which is working with global vendors including Docxpresso; HighQ; Jeffit and Nymiz.

The Innovation in Law Studies Alliance (ILSA), founded by director María Jesús González-Espejo, who is currently vice-president of the European LegalTech Association (ELTA), is an alliance of law and technology faculties. Its mission is to support their transformation through collaboration between members.

The digital programme is open to all universities and its aim is to support members in transforming their curricula, relying on technology and becoming more global. 

The early joiners are from countries including France, Poland, Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, México and South Africa.

According to Jesús González-Espejo, this is an idea that has been several years in the making. She said: “We have always believed that the transformation of the legal sector had to start with the universities, and these need to commit to open innovation, encourage collaboration with other universities and be more global. ILSA will help them to achieve these goals. Furthermore, we want to bring the best LegalTech applications closer to students, so that when they start working, they can become fundamental pillars of the digital transformation within their organisations”.

To achieve its objectives, ILSA has created an activity programme including:

1. Events such as webinars by experts in subjects related to new technologies, methodologies.

2. Training in LegalTech, offered by the LegalTech companies that are onboard in the project. These include Docxpresso (Spanish document automation application), HighQ (British collaborative platform for working with your team, partners and suppliers), Jeffit (Russian ERP for law firms) or Nymiz (Spanish platform for the anonymisation of legal documents).

3. Access to the collaborative and knowledge management platform, which has been created with HighQ, where members can find documentation on innovation and LegalTech, share news, generate debates, make queries to other members of the network or contact faculties in other countries to organise international activities. 

4. The ILSA seal, which will be launched in 2022 and will certify each university’s commitment to innovation.  

The ambition is that the Alliance will promote, as part of a second phase, the creation of a community of innovative teachers. Iga Kurowska, ILSA’s representative in France and Poland, who is a partner in French boutique law firm Verne Legal and Professor of Law at the Université Catholique de Lille, says: “One of the reasons why the much-needed modernisation of law studies is not progressing, is the difficulty of finding teachers trained to teach these subjects”. 

Jesús González-Espejo’s consultancy firm, The Instituto de Innovación Legal, will provide training services for teachers, support in the organisation of events, collaborate in the preparation of training programmes or help in the search and selection of teachers.

In addition to Kurowska, ILSA’s regional representatives are: Sergio Arellano, president of the Inter-American Institute for Research and Teaching in Human Rights; Paulius Astromskis, partner of exe. legal; Daniel Bermejo, expert in digital projects of the Instituto de Innovación Legal; Mauricio Bermudez, managing partner of Acuña, Acuña y Bermudez; Virginia Carmona, professor of the Department of Private Law and Labour and Social Security Law of the University Rey Juan Carlos of Madrid; Janet Huerta, Editor of Foro Jurídico; Jackie Nagtegaal, Director of LIPCO – Law for all and founder of the Futures Law Faculty; Alice Namuli, partner and Head of Technology and Innovation at Katende, Ssempebwa & Co. Advocates; Karol Valencia, LegalTech project consultant, Legal Designer and Compliance Officer at Electronic IDentification; and Alexandra Villacís, President of the Association of Latin American Women Lawyers (AMJI) and Director of LATAM projects at the Instituto de Innovación Legal.

ILSA will initially charge nothing but next year will ask members to pay a flat fee of €2,800 per year. The plans is to operate a freemium model, where non-members are able to access some support and services but members will be able to obtain the seal, access to forums and greater access to other members.

List of ILSA members already enrolled members:

· UEES Faculty of Law, Politics and Development (Ecuador)

· University Católica de Cuenca (Ecuador)

· University CBKE (Poland)

· University EAFIT (Colombia)

· University del Rosario (Colombia)

· University del Cabo (South Africa)

· Faculté de droit – Université Catholique de Lille (France)

· EDHEC Augmented Law Institute (France)

· University Rey Juan Carlos (Spain)

· University Ecotec (Ecuador)

Five further universities have confirmed participation and ILSA is waiting for their information.