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Technology, Law, and Leadership Important Course Information – Fall 2020


Technology, Law, and Leadership is a three-credit limited enrollment seminar for upper-level law students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. This page is for students enrolled in the Fall 2020 version of the seminar.

The course is LAW 5754 in the University of Pittsburgh course catalog.


There is no prerequisite for this course. Students are expected to have learned the fundamentals of legal research, legal analysis, and legal writing. There is no prerequisite for this course.


The official course description (University of Pittsburgh course number LAW 5754) is this:

The theme of this seminar is change. Technologies are changing in ways that we often do not even see. The character of law, legal institutions, and law practice is changing rapidly and dramatically. As humans, our capabilities and futures are changing. How do we identify and assess the virtues and drawbacks of all of this?  As lawyers and as professionals in other fields, what – if anything – can and should we do about it? The seminar approaches those questions by diving into deep critical examinations of how technological change is generating and reflecting new ideas about what law is and what law does, at both global and local scales.  The payoff is greater than learning about contemporary technology law.  The payoff is an introduction to leadership competencies and capabilities that help new lawyers and other professionals thrive in this new world.


The seminar will feature three strands of material, braided together.

One strand consists of changes to the legal services environment (formerly known as the “legal profession”), some of which are driven by technology, some by globalization, and some by changes to labor and employment patterns. The world that new lawyers and other legal professionals are entering is undergoing large and rapid shifts.

A second strand consists of a critical look at the law and policy of technology: online platforms, social media, AI and data and algorithms, robotics and surveillance, and so on. This is mostly a critical look at this area of the law rather than a summary of the law itself. In other words, what are the power dynamics and other positive and negative attributes of where, how, and why technology (in its globalized forms) is changing social systems of many sorts, including law?

Since strands one and two are, by necessity and design, somewhat dark in their implications for new lawyers, a final strand is leadership and related skills and competencies. What should new lawyers (and all new professionals) learn to do in order to maximize their opportunities for professional success, happiness, and impact? A traditional law degree is not enough.


A fuller description of the goals of the course is this. In Technology, Law, and Leadership, you will:

  • Acquire a basic understanding of the threats, challenges, and opportunities associated with the modern legal profession, with being a lawyer, and with law in society;
  • Acquire a basic critical understanding of technology developments of the last 20 years as those bear on society at large and on professional services in particular; and
  • Acquire a basic understanding of personal and professional competencies associated with leadership, which are likely to be critical in supporting individual lawyers’ capabilities in thriving in their professional and personal lives. You should complete the course with a basic set of leadership tools.

At the end of the course:

Each student should be able to undertake a critical examination of a new case of organizational or group continuity or transformation, and to sketch an outline of tools, strategies, and tactics that relevant leaders might use to develop and advance a vision for that organization.

Each student should be able to undertake a critical self-assessment with respect to their own inventory of relevant leadership competencies.


[Omitted, for Fall 2020.]


This class will meet on Mondays from 3:40 pm to 5:40 pm. There will be an intermission.

We will meet online, rather than in a physical location in the Barco Law Building. There will be no face-to-face instruction.

The online venue for the class meetings will be the ZOOM videoconferencing service (

The online venue for office hours will be a server in Discord ( and the related app). 

Instructions for how to access the ZOOM space and the Discord server will be distributed to enrolled students via email and will be available via course pages in TWEN and in CANVAS.

Students who want to participate in online Office Hours will need to have a Discord account. Students who aren’t already familiar with Discord (in my experience, many are) should set up an account, download the Discord app, and spend some time exploring it before the semester begins. Students who would like to meet one-to-one with me can make an appointment to do that separately.

Each class session will be conducted “synchronously,” that is, in live or real time. Each class session will be recorded, and the recordings will be posted online, with links accessible via TWEN and Canvas, so that students can access them and review them later.


The American Bar Association and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law require regular and punctual class attendance (see

The Law School’s formal attendance policy does not apply to this course. Students are expected to attend 100 percent of class meetings.

Attendance will be taken via the Top Hat app.  The attendance code for each class session is generated that day by Top Hat (i.e., a new code for each class) and will be posted in that day’s chat session on Zoom.

Students have plenty to be concerned with during the Fall 2020 before wondering about the consequences of possibly missing class. I will be flexible in administering the attendance policy. If you have concerns about that, please contact me.

The formal policy is less important than this: Students are expected to arrive for class on time, which means *before the announced start time for the class.* Students are expected to read assignments in advance of the class meeting for which they are assigned. Students should be prepared to have something to say about the assigned material.

It’s best for all if you ask questions and if you refer to specific points and ideas from the assigned materials when you do that.


To help ensure a productive online classroom environment for everyone, students should follow these guidelines when using the ZOOM service for this class:

  1. Health first. Log in and participate if you’re able. If you’re not, let me know privately and/or or get in touch with one of the deans at Pitt Law.
  2. Log in a little bit early if possible, before the official start time of the class, so that you’re ready to participate.
  3. Log in with a real name for your screen name: preferred first name, then preferred last name. On your Zoom image on your screen, clicking on the “three dots in the corner” settings icon should allow students to type in the preferred names.
  4. If possible, set up your computer in a space that’s quiet and free of distractions and interruptions. Mute or turn off music and other video sources. It’s not always possible to find a completely quiet place, so students should do their best and we’ll all be a bit flexible.
  5. Camera on, if possible. Again, that’s not always possible (or desirable), so students should do their best.
  6. Microphone *off* by default. But know how to activate it when you want to or need to.
  7. Use a headset or earbuds if you can, rather that your computer’s speakers.
  8. In voice and in chat, be respectful of everyone else in the group.
  9. Class sessions will be recorded. The recordings will be posted to a private server for everyone in the class (but only everyone in the class) to review later.


If a class is cancelled for any reason, it will be made up via a newly-scheduled class session.  


If you, a friend, or a family member experiences illness or caregiving responsibilities that require that you take time away from this course, please tell me, and please contact the Dean of Students (Alexandra (Allie) Linsenmeyer; for assistance.


To an unusual degree, conversations in this class will feature stories about students’ own experiences, and my own experiences, and the broader social and cultural worlds, in all of their diverse and conflicting forms. To an unusual degree, it is important that classroom conversations be respectful and accepting, and that every student bear part of the responsibility, along with me, for ensuring that the class environment is friendly and trusting.


This course, like all law school courses, is designed to be challenging. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know as soon as possible. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

I encourage you to visit me in office hours or by appointment.

Pitt also has other support for you in this course: the Office of Disability Resources and Services, (, the Writing Center ( and the Counseling Center (, and the online mental health resource, ULifeline ( For campus financial and food and health assistance, please see this list of resources from Pitt Libraries ( and note that you can apply for emergency loans ( as well. If you need official accommodations, you have a right to have these met; please see the section below on “Students with Disabilities.” If you would like less formal means of support in this course, please get in touch with me.


[The formality of the following comes from the University of Pittsburgh and Pitt Law.]

It is the policy and practice of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requirements regarding students and applicants with disabilities. Under these laws, no qualified individual with a disability shall be denied access to or participation in services, programs, and activities of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Students who require accommodations because of a physical, learning or other disability must be evaluated by the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Disability Resource Services (ODRS). The ODRS will document and verify the student’s status and make recommendations for appropriate accommodations to the Associate Dean of Students.

If a student has a disability for which the student is or may be requesting accommodation, that student should contact both the office of Pitt Law’s Dean of Students (Alexandra (Allie) Linsenmeyer; and the University Office of Disability Resources and Services (“DRS”), 216 William Pitt Union,, Phone 412-648-7890, Video Phone 412-228-5374, Fax 412-624-3346, as early as possible in the semester. DRS will verify the disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course. The Associate Dean of Students will oversee the implementation of accommodations.

Students should not discuss exam accommodations with professors. The Associate Dean of Students and the Registrar will insure that any testing accommodations are provided through the DRS.


Students enrolling in this course are expected to comply with the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Code of Conduct, which may be accessed online here.

Students also are expected to comply with the University of Pittsburgh’s and the School of Law’s Guidelines on Academic Integrity which are available at and, respectively.


Office hours are on Monday afternoons in Professor Madison’s Discord server from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and at other times by appointment. For meetings outside of regular office hours, you should always make an appointment via e-mail at


There is no casebook to buy. All readings and other assigned materials for the course will be available for free, on this site or elsewhere on the Internet.


I do not expect to use slides in class, but if I do, the slides will be posted afterward on this page or on the course homepage (as part of the online syllabus) or both.


Your grade for this course will be based on a single long research paper, described in great detail below.

In addition to the research paper, you are required to turn in brief reflection comments throughout the semester, again as described in detail below.


Reflection Comments

Each student in this seminar is required to keep and deliver to Professor Madison a weekly reflection comment that consists of their own reactions to and comments on each week’s (i) assigned readings and viewings; (ii) class discussions; and/or (iii) research and writing activities. The prompt for each comment should be “This week, I learned the following about my development as a lawyer,” or something analogous.

The comments can take any form (in other words, there are no format requirements) other than that each one should consist of a minimum of 250 words.

The comments will not be graded, but they are mandatory. They will be reviewed and assessed on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Each comment should be turned in via the course page on TWEN.

Research Paper

The grade for the seminar will be based primarily on a single long research paper. The research paper must consist of a case study of (i) building, (ii) growing, and/or (iii) evolving/adapting an organization, enterprise, or other initiative, from the standpoint of better (or worse) leadership practices.

The case should be connected to law, the legal profession, or legal services in some respect. It may be historical; it may be contemporary. It may involve technological change, but it need not. It may draw on US experiences or on comparative experiences or experiences in other countries.

The case may be large scale (for example, the development of the bar exam) or small scale (for example, a specific program within a specific law school). It may involve a story of success, or a story of failure, a story that is yet to conclude, or a story that includes some of each of these elements. Long term outcomes may differ from short term outcomes.

The framework for the research and for the paper should include asking and answering a series of questions:

  • What social (or economic, or cultural) problem(s) did the enterprise face?
  • What steps did human actors take to diagnose the problem(s), to develop strategies to address the problems in systemic and systematic terms, to advance and implement those strategies, and to achieve some vision of success?
  • In what respects did those human actors draw on their own skills and resources and in what respects did they draw on or build collaborations with others?
  • In what respects did those collaborations succeed, and in what respects did they fail?
  • What barriers to success had to be overcome (personal, ideological, economic, technological, legal, cultural or social), and were they overcome, and how?
  • How did those actors adapt to obstacles and setbacks?
  • In what respects were leadership practices and strategies not particularly important to the resolution of the case, because other factors (such as law, economics, technology, organizational culture, and fortuity) played bigger roles?
  • In retrospect, evaluating the case a whole, in what respects does the case exemplify successful leadership practices, and in what respects should and could the relevant actors have used different strategies?

Not every question can be answered fully in every case, and the answers to each question may have different weights in particular cases, depending on the circumstances. It is critical that the case study not simply re-tell the story of what happened, but research and analyze how it happened, from the perspective of the leadership strategies and practices of the people involved.

Examples of cases that students might choose include:

  • Approval (later rescinded) of the Washington state “Limited License Legal Technicians” program
  • The California Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS), and how it came about and conducted its work, and the current state of re-regulation in California
  • Attorney re-regulation in Utah: the Regulatory Sandbox
  • Attorney re-regulation in Arizona
  • Formation of the Ryerson University law school, in Canada
  • Changes to non-lawyer firm ownership rules in the UK
  • Changes to non-lawyer firm ownership rules in Australia
  • Responses to unauthorized practice of law complaints against LegalZoom
  • Formation and advancement of CLOC (the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium)

Students will prepare four versions of the paper in total, two in outline form and two in fully elaborated (footnoted) form.

The final paper must be a minimum of 30 pp. long [double-spaced] and a maximum of 40 pp. long.

I do not expect students to prepare and deliver an oral presentation to the seminar based on their research.

Detailed explanations of the expectations for each of those four versions, and general guidelines for researching and writing the paper, are here.

A recap of paper deadlines:

  • Friday, September 11, 2020: Paper proposals are due. *I plan to share each student’s paper proposal with the entire seminar, so that everyone knows what everyone else is working on.*
  • Friday, October 9, 2020: Outlines are due.
  • Friday, November 13, 2020: First drafts are due.
  • Wednesday, December 16, 2020 (*one week after the last day of exams*): Final drafts are due.

With respect to deadlines, follow the dates listed above rather than the schedule listed in the guidelines. 

The official course policy on due dates is this: There will be no extensions or exceptions to assignment deadlines. except in the case of rare, dire, and unanticipated emergency, and then only with the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or the Vice Dean. Do not be late.

The pandemic addendum on due dates is this : Traditionally, I’m pretty strict about deadlines. This year, I’ll be accommodating for students who, for one good faith reason or another, may struggle with that policy. It’s more important that students succeed than that they get the work in precisely on time. That said, flexibility has to have some limits. The assignments in this class move along at a steady clip, and it’s important for practical reasons – my grading and commenting on the papers (outlines, etc.) as a batch, most of all – that the work product for each assignment be turned in essentially at the same time. Any student who expects to encounter a problem with a given due date should contact me directly as soon as that circumstance develops.

Grading guidelines

The paper topic proposal is graded on a pass/fail basis.

The outline counts for 25% of the final grade.

The full (first) draft counts for 45% of the final grade.

The final version of the paper counts for 30% of the final grade.

The final grade may be adjusted upward or downward based on the depth of the student’s efforts to revise the full draft of the paper in light of Professor Madison’s comments.

Seminar grades may also be adjusted upward or downward based on the quality of the student’s classroom participation, and they may be adjusted upward based on the quality of the student’s reflective comments.

As is customary for courses that are graded on the basis of students’ out of class work product rather than on the basis of final exams, papers will not be graded anonymously. Students should include their own names on the first page of all written work product used to satisfy the requirements of the seminar.

Papers written for this seminar may be used to satisfy the upper level writing requirement.

Work product should be turned in electronically, via the “Assignment Drop Box” at the Technology, Law, and Leadership – Fall 2020 page at TWEN, on Westlaw, or via email to Professor Madison, as an attachment.


The design and content of this course, and some of the language used on this website, originated in conversations with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh, particularly (in alphabetical order) Sue Cohen (Katz Graduate School of Business), Alison Langmead (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Department of the History of Art and Architecture; School of Computing and Information), Frits Pil (Katz Graduate School of Business), Ravi Patel (School of Pharmacy), and Annette Vee (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Department of English).

Particular credit goes to Dr. Langmead and Dr. Vee and their Digital Humanity course, offered in Spring 2019 and, revised, in Spring 2020.