NewLaw, legaltech and marshmallows

By Mudit Dhami, Michelle Lau, Lynette Munoz, Mehraaz Sidhu, Christopher Wright & Raymond Zhang (Monash Law Ambassadors co-facilitating the Law Week Legal Tech & Design Masterclass with Rachel Kessel – Chief Examiner, Legal Tech Studio – 17 May 2019)

The Australian Centre for Justice Innovation at Monash University hosted a Law Week event on 17 May designed to unlock insights into the future of NewLaw.

Participants in the Legal Tech & Design Masterclass started with a hands-on team-building challenge. Teams of four had to create the tallest free-standing structure using 20 pieces of spaghetti, sticky tape, a metre of string and a marshmallow on top.

In this 18-minute design sprint, teams learned the benefits of communication, collaboration and prototyping. This challenge has been tested amongst various groups and it’s interesting to note that kindergarten children easily trump lawyers at this exercise. This fact suggests our natural creativity might be quashed by the rule-based nature of schooling and the rigour of law studies. Yet participants today were given the opportunity to actively reignite their child-like curiosity and spark to the tunes of Aretha Franklin singing ‘Think’.

Tower height of each group


Law schools, like Monash University, are heeding the message that NewLawyers need to start thinking outside the box. Innovation courses like Legal Tech Studio, offered to Monash JD, Masters and Continuing Professional Development participants will use industry guest lecturers to foster transferable skills in project management and human-centred design. This is to ensure graduates not only understand black-letter law, but are equipped with the holistic skillset to adapt to any legal environment.

Rachel Kessel, self-confessed ‘pracademic’ and Winner of the Women in Law 2018 Academic of the Year, facilitated this Masterclass. During the lecture that traversed the NewLaw landscape and speculated on the future, Rachel explained that “the climate is currently one where lawyers are having to embrace ambiguity, complexity and ongoing change. Clients now expect a higher level of service where legal advice encompasses forward-thinking strategies. This is why I want today’s students to create their own precedents, not just follow them.”

Participants building a tower with spaghetti

Six students mentored by Rachel Kessel as part of The Monash Law Ambassador program had this to say about their experiences working with the Australian Centre for Justice Innovation on the Masterclass preparations for Law Week:

“We have been researching the role of creativity and client-centric practice as a means to disrupt and innovate current models of legal service delivery. I am inspired to share this knowledge with my peers and apply it in my practice to positively contribute to the evolution of our profession.” – Mudit Dhami (3rd year Theatre/Law student)

“Being exposed to the concept of NewLaw has opened my eyes to the endless possibilities available to improve legal services. I am inspired by existing innovations, such as smart contracts, and am motivated to create an idea of my own that will target the needs of the community. I believe all law students should have an understanding of the legal tech and design phenomenon, as we are the next generation of lawyers shaping the legal industry. By exercising our creative minds, the world is truly our oyster!” – Michelle Lau (5th year Commerce/Law student)

“Being involved in the Legal Tech and Design Masterclass has provided eye-opening insights into the various emerging legal tech solutions that threaten to reshape legal practice. I believe it is crucial for law students to have an understanding of NewLaw so as to be best equipped to help advance the legal profession in the years ahead.” – Lynette Munoz (2nd year Juris Doctor student)

“When I got accepted into the Monash Law Ambassador Program, we were told that our law school journey would be taking a new direction. Being mentored by Rachel has turned that statement into a reality. I believe it is essential that every law student be aware of these changes, not only to adapt themselves to the changing workplace requirements but to develop an innovative edge which they can employ to come up with creative solutions for problems that cannot be foreseen today.” – Mehraaz Sidhu (2nd year Arts/Law Student)

“In the lead up to the Legal Tech and Design Masterclass, I have learnt so much about the NewLaw landscape and the human-centred approach, whereas previously, I wasn’t even aware of its existence. NewLaw can really modernise the traditional legal system, placing a much larger focus on clients and their needs.” – Christopher Wright (3rd year Engineering/Law student)

“Through working with Rachel one notion has become strikingly clear – the way in which legal technology will disrupt the industry is no longer a possibility, but an inevitability. As a current law student, I believe that all my peers need to approach this evolving NewLaw landscape with the appropriate mindset and be well-equipped to tackle issues with the right skills. Our designs will be vital to the future of the legal profession.” – Raymond Zhang (5th year Commerce/Law student)

If you have an interest in NewLaw, Legal Tech and design, please look at our new units:

Featured image by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

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