With the majority of law colleges in the UK still visibly failing to provide meaningful legal technology training, Reed Smith may just have an answer, launching a Legal Technology Summer Associate Programme across its Chicago, London and Pittsburgh offices.

The programme combines the traditional summer vacation experience with a technology focus, where students on work experience will work with Reed Smith attorneys and the firm’s innovation team to develop creative and innovative, technology-driven solutions.

In addition to traditional research, writing and other routine summer associate work, the five associates in the inaugural programme will work on projects which will enhance legal service delivery through technology.

Indicative projects will include an initiative to explore the application of blockchain and smart contract technology to real estate transactions, the development of an automated contract execution platform for clients and the design of an internal knowledge analytics tool. As they conduct their legal work, they will also be expected to consider how technology can assist in improving efficiency and service delivery.

“The Legal Technology Summer Associate Programme grows out of Reed Smith’s longstanding focus on meeting clients’ legal needs with technology-based solutions,” said Lucy Dillon, the firm’s chief knowledge officer. “We are keen to see how these students’ perspective and fresh insight can help drive further progress providing clients with new types of legal services, delivered innovative ways.”

In choosing students for the inaugural Legal Technology Summer Associates programme, Reed Smith focused on candidates with a demonstrated interest in innovation and technology.

While in the UK legal technology training during law college is largely non-existent, that is not the case in the US.

The three U.S. students in the programme are from Michigan State University College of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and University of Pittsburgh School of Law; each has completed academic coursework in computer science and all three of the law schools have well developed technology programme and distinguished academics in the field.

“The future belongs to law firms that create a culture of innovation and continuous improvement,” said professor Daniel Linna, director of LegalRnD – the center for legal services innovation at the Michigan State University College of Law.

“Reed Smith’s Legal Technology Summer Associates programme demonstrates its understanding that increasingly, clients want a firm whose lawyers possess both legal acumen and the ability to work collaboratively to improve processes and leverage data and technology to increase efficiency and quality and obtain better outcomes for clients.”