Richard Susskind’s ‘biggest worry’ is the way law schools teach their students

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By Katie King on

Graduates “ill-prepared” for everyday legal work, says top futurologist


Futurologist Richard Susskind has bemoaned the teaching of law in universities, describing it as his “single biggest worry”.

Susskind — an academic, author and speaker who has long predicted legal work will dry up in deference to technology — said:

In many UK law schools, the law is taught as it was in the 1970s. No regard for globalisation, commoditization, technology, AI… Most law professors are not remotely interested in this stuff.

Continuing his lecture at the Society for Computers and Law (SCL), of which he is the president, Susskind claimed:

So many graduates in the UK are ill-prepared for the everyday legal work of today… still less for tomorrow.

The University of Glasgow graduate — who has written extensively about the demise of the profession — said law schools are not only indifferent but positively antagonistic towards the study of the future as a legitimate object of consideration. This, he continued:

[D]ismays me and worries me more than anything I’ve discussed tonight.

Elsewhere in his speech — which included an introduction by the Lord Chief Justice — Susskind predicted humans would one day emotionally connect with robots. These, he said, are being programmed to act as “helpers” that can detect human emotions and respond to them. Continuing, the top professor said:

I have little doubt we will have affection for and will have feelings for the generations of robots that will be our helpers and companions.

Susskind’s comments come in the same month as scientists at UCL and the University of Sheffield unveiled a new robotic judge. The high-tech AI software — which scanned over 580 human rights cases in order to create its algorithm — can now, according to its creators, predict the outcome of similar cases with 79% accuracy.