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ABOUT THE COURSE
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 2021 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.
COURSE OBJECTIVES AND THE OFFICIAL COURSE DESCRIPTION
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.
SURE, BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
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.
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 keys to 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.
CLASSROOM COMPUTER AND WIRELESS POLICY[Omitted, for Fall 2021.]
CLASS MEETING TIME AND PLACE
This class will meet on Wednesdays from 12:40 pm to 2:40 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 class meetings will be the ZOOM videoconferencing service (pitt.zoom.us).
Room G13 in the Barco Law Building will be available during class meeting times for students to use to connect to the class ZOOM videoconference.
Instructions for how to access the ZOOM space are below (in part) and will be distributed to enrolled students via email and will be available via a course page in TWEN.
Each class session will be conducted synchronously, that is, in live or real time. Because the bulk of each class session will consist of student conversation rather than lectures or descriptions by me, the sessions will not be recorded.
CLASS ATTENDANCE AND PREPARATION
The American Bar Association and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law require regular and punctual class attendance (policy here).
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 2021 semester 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.
ABOUT ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM
To help ensure a productive online classroom environment for everyone, students should follow these guidelines when using the ZOOM service for this class:
- 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.
- Log in a little bit early if possible, before the official start time of the class, so that you’re ready to participate.
- 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.
- 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.
- Camera on, if possible. Again, that’s not always possible (or desirable), so students should do their best.
- Microphone *off* by default. But know how to activate it when you want to or need to.
- Use a headset or earbuds if you can, rather that your computer’s speakers.
- In voice and in chat, be respectful of everyone else in the group.
- 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.
CLASS CANCELLATIONS AND MAKEUPS
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; firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
INCLUSIVITY AND DIVERSITY
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 talk with me directly.
Pitt also has other support for you: 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 loan. 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.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES[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 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 the Dean of Students in the Law School (Dean Alexandra Linsenmeyer; email@example.com) 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 Dean of Students will oversee the implementation of accommodations.
Students should not discuss exam accommodations with professors. The 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 Guidelines on Academic Integrity and the School of Law’s Standards of Academic Integrity.
CONTACTING PROFESSOR MADISON
I will not hold regular “drop in” in person office hours. Students are welcome to meet with me virtually, via ZOOM by appointment and in person by appointment (when and where it is safe to do so).
New for 2021-2022 classes: I will manage student appointments via the Calendly app. Click here to see my schedule (Monday and Tuesday afternoons) and to make a virtual appointment. Virtual meetings will take place via the same ZOOM link used for class sessions.
If you are not available during my usual meeting times, email me to find an agreeable alternative.
I am not available on Fridays.
New for 2021-2022 classes: Like college students, law students are notorious for not using the most important resource of their school – the faculty – effectively. “Office hours” aren’t the only way for students to do better in that department, but they’re the easiest way.
What does “effectively” mean? Why meet with a professor during “office hours”? Maybe students have questions about class material; that’s the usual reason. But the more important reason, and the better and more effective use of “office hours” time, is simply to get to know the professor – and for the professor to get to know the student. What are your hopes and dreams? Anxieties and fears? Passions and talents?
Little of this will matter in the short run, and (to anticipate a common question) your professor (me) is rarely in a position to help a student get a particular job. Personal acquaintance can help professors write more persuasive recommendation letters, but recommendations letters are only the tips of the proverbial icebergs when it comes to benefits from personal relationships. Over the longer run, faculty friendships forged as students often pay enormous dividends in all sorts of unexpected ways.
I’ve certainly experienced that in my observations of former Pitt Law students. And I can vouch for that from my own experience. I owe much of my career as a law professor to the fact that I spent many hours during my third year of law school talking about German professional soccer with one of my professors, a man who was, at the time, one of the most celebrated Constitutional law scholars in the world. (I was writing a long research paper under his supervision; we also talked about the paper. But the soccer conversations stayed with me – and with him.) Soccer may not be your thing. What is? If I know, I’m much more likely to remember you in the years to come.
REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS
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 the course homepage.
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.
WORK EXPECTED OF STUDENTS
Each student in this seminar is required to keep and deliver to me (via TWEN) 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.
To the extent possible, each reflection comment should be linked explicitly to one or more of the three key themes described in the Delta Model of lawyer competence, illustrated by the image to the right. The image is clickable; more detail is available at the linked text. We will discuss the Delta Model in class.
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 by 12 noon on Wednesday of each week. That is, before class meets. The reflection for Class 1 should be turned in a week later, in advance of Class 2, and so on.
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:
- Advancement and/or approval of “re-regulation” strategies in any state or jurisdiction (including outside the US), such as Washington state, Utah, Arizona, and California.
- Formation of the Ryerson University law school, in Canada
- Responses to unauthorized practice of law complaints against LegalZoom
- Formation and advancement of CLOC (the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium)
For ideas and inspiration, explore the “Observatory” for innovation and technology in law, produced by Orrick, a global Big Law firm recognized as a worldwide legal in legaltech and innovation in private practice.
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.
A recap of paper deadlines:
- Friday, September 10, 2021: 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 8, 2021: Outlines are due.
- Friday, November 12, 2021: First drafts are due.
- Wednesday, December 9, 2021 (*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. Do not be late with the assignments.
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 problem develops.
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 my 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 Pitt Law’s upper level writing (ULW) requirement.
Work product should be turned in electronically, via the “Assignment Drop Box” at the Technology, Law, and Leadership – Fall 2021 page at TWEN, on Westlaw. Each assignment must be turned in no later than 5 pm on the day(s) that it is due or at such other date and time as we may agree.
If students experience difficulty delivering the assignment via TWEN, then they may send a copy via email to me no later than the date-and-time deadline for the assignment in question.
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.