Forty-five students from 18 universities around the world gathered in the medieval Spanish city of Segovia on Jan. 19 and 20 with professors, academic mentors and entrepreneurs for the kickoff of the third year of LawWithoutWalls, an extraordinary interactive course that was founded at Miami Law with the aim of discovering and implementing innovations in the education of future lawyers and the practice of law.
This year's launch of LawWithoutWalls benefited enormously from a new collaborative arrangement with the global law firm Eversheds, based in London, which sent to the event a large contingent of its own attorneys as well as a group of in-house lawyers for the firm's large corporate clients, who include Coca-Cola, Roche, Tyko and the British retail chain Marks & Spencer. Such connections will be invaluable to LawWithoutWalls' students, who hail from such far-flung places as São Paulo, Beijing, Sydney and Tel Aviv.
Since its launch in 2011, LawWithoutWalls has drawn a considerable amount of attention for its groundbreaking approach to legal education, combining state-of-the-art technology with a far-reaching exploration of what the field of law might look like many years from now.
The two-day conference in Segovia took place on the campus of Instituto Empresa University, known by the acronym IE and on the site of a former convent. Participants immersed themselves in an intensive series of discussion sessions designed to ultimately provide lawyers of the future with "the tools to work in a global world and an increasingly international profession," Soledad Atienza, Dean of the IE Law School, told the Segovia daily El Adelantado. Topics for the sessions included "Culture Creation and Dynamic Teaming," "Work Style and Behavior Analysis," "Communicating and Connecting" and "Building a Global Network One Person at a Time."
After the kickoff, students returned to their respective nations and began preparing for regular virtual sessions over the Internet during the semester. In those sessions, and with the help of academic mentors and business entrepreneurs, teams of students will work to solve a specific problem, usually with a business application or innovation. As in previous years, they will gather again in person at the course's conclusion in April at the University of Miami to present to a panel of venture capitalists and legal industry experts the solutions they have arrived at as part of their mission.
"The kickoff was a great way of breaking down barriers, along with building relationships and connecting with other members in the LWOW community," said Stephanie Panchkowry, a University College London student who took part in last year's program and was invited to return for the kickoff in Segovia, where she conducted a presentation about Adobe Connect, the system the course uses to communicate during the semester. "It is surprising both how much energy and positivity can be created by events such as these, providing a cushioned and supportive environment for the rest of the LawWithoutWalls project." Panchkowry said the Segovia kickoff was "fun-filled and exciting."
Sean Maye, a second-year student at Miami Law, said that, for him, LawWithoutWalls is an "unexpected opportunity to merge the seemingly invisible gap between my legal education and its real-world application, as well as a chance to discover and refine my entrepreneurial inclinations."
Another Miami Law student, Paige Reese, 3L, wrote an e-mail to LawWithoutWalls' founders, Miami Law Associate Professor Michele DeStefano and Michael Bossone, Special Advisor to Dean Patricia D. White, and to the program's coordinator, Lauren Madigan, to express her gratitude to them for having pulled off such an impressive gathering in the mountains of central Spain. "I want to thank you all for your incredible work from this past weekend," Reese wrote. "I have never attended a conference quite like LawWithoutWalls. I was amazed by what the three of you were able to accomplish with such a diverse group in such a short amount of time."
Besides IE Law School and Miami Law, the students in this year's program come from National Law School of India University, based in Bangalore; Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago; Tel Aviv University Buchmann Faculty of Law; University of Montréal Faculty of Law; University of São Paulo Faculty of Law; the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; University College London's Faculty of Laws; the University of St. Gallen's Executive School of Management, Technology and Law; Fordham Law School; Harvard Law School; IE Business School in Madrid; Indiana University Maurer School of Law; New York Law School; Peking University School of Transnational Law; Stanford Law School; and Sydney Law School.
LawWithoutWalls was first launched in 2011 with a kickoff at University College London. Last year's kickoff took place at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.
The main entrance of IE University in Segovia, Spain, where the LWOW launch took place. (Photo: Provided to Miami Law)