The new initiative is led by legal philosopher Professor Kevin Lee
RALEIGH — Campbell University’s Norman A. Wiggins School of Law is excited to announce the launch of the Campbell Law Innovation Institute (CLII), which will focus on myriad issues raised by the use of advanced technologies in the delivery of legal services, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and quantum computing.
These new technologies are forcing innovation within law firms and law schools, which are responding by developing perspectives, programs, research and theories to prepare students to address society’s most pressing needs. The CLII will conduct research and promote models for the ethical applications of technology within the legal sector as well as business and government.
“These are the cutting-edge issues facing law schools and we plan to be front and center in addressing them,” said Dean J. Rich Leonard.
The legal profession is at the forefront of this transformation, since technology is disrupting the ways that firms and organizations deliver legal services, and for good reason, said Professor Kevin Lee, the CLII’s founding director.
“What has historically been a siloed, proprietary method of providing legal services is giving way to a new, increasingly flexible, commoditized and interdisciplinary approach that is forcing lawyers to rethink the ways they approach legal problems,” Lee explained. “The Innovation Institute is Campbell Law School’s foothold on the future of legal education. It will generate knowledge about how advanced information technology is changing the nature and practice of law and the moral and legal issues concerning its responsible development.”
Lee added the CLII is launching at a time that is particularly ripe for innovation. “The next five to 10 years will bring substantial changes as the impact of AI extends throughout society and transforms it,” he explained. “There are tremendous opportunities and risks right now. The Institute will contribute to understanding and educating in these areas of profound change.”
The CLII’s immediate goals are to help solve problems currently facing legal educators: the need to maintain a focus on teaching substantive law and practical skills while addressing the rapidly growing need to respond to the changes brought about by the new technologies. These dual goals create structural obstacles to change within the academic setting, making law schools — which are largely concerned with helping students clear the bar exam hurdle — ill-equipped to lead innovation. The CLII circumvents these concerns by setting up a separate academic unit through which faculty and students can work across disciplinary and institutional boundaries outside of the law school’s traditional academic program and structures.
The CLII’s mission is to promote the use of ethical AI through a data-driven, human-centered approach. Ultimately, the CLII’s aim is to generate research and educational experiences that form lawyers into ethical professionals primed to cultivate a more just and virtuous society. To reach this goal, the CLII is leveraging an interdisciplinary approach to legal innovation. This means that students will work collaboratively with technologists, business leaders and other professionals in developing projects.
The CLII received initial funding through a generous gift from the Dennis and Alisa Wicker family. Dennis Wicker said, “The Innovation Institute is a giant step forward for Campbell Law School. It is also another tribute to Dean Leonard’s leadership and Professor Lee’s vision for enhancing the academics of the school. More importantly, this will be a game-changing experience for students.”
According to Harrison Wicker ‘20, an CLII Advisory Board member, “The successful lawyers of tomorrow must have an entrepreneurial mindset.”
Wicker added this mindset is essential in helping lawyers prepare for the changes yet to come in their profession.
“The practice of law today is not the same as the practice of law 20 years ago, and the practice of law 20 years from now will not be the same as the practice of law now,” he said. “The Institute will allow lawyers to be trained for the future and be ahead of the curve. It will make them more attractive to law firms and allow them to serve a larger part of the population as technology makes legal services more accessible.”
Lee studied social and political ethics under the renowned Christian political philosopher, Jean Bethke Elshtain, at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He has taught jurisprudence for nearly 20 years, and he writes on the relationship between law and morality, Christian legal thought and the relationship between religion and science. His current work is focused on understanding the significance of computational law for jurisprudence.
Lee said, “Philosophical ethics is rational reflection on normative intuitions. Understood in this way, ethics is not one normative system among others, as some view it. Ethics is the foundation of any rational normative system because ethics refers to the common values that we should all pursue, like justice, equality and the common good, and thus ethics is the foundation of all forms of regulation that seek to be rational and universally applicable.”
Lee sees philosophy as central to the work of the CLII. He believes that “in the future, AI ethics will develop into a field similar to the way medical ethics developed, which was led by philosophers.”
The initial focus of the CLII will be on developing a continuing legal education (CLE) course to test the concept of online legal technology education in a new virtual marketplace, Lee continued. Relying on partners like the legal technology startup UniCourt, the CLII will rely upon curated data sets and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as a guide in crafting online and seated classes. API is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.
“UniCourt’s role as a partner and advisory board member will be focused on providing the Institute with AI normalized legal data and access to APIs to teach the next generation of legal professionals the latest in legal technology for business development, competitive intelligence and process automation,” explains Jeff Cox, UniCourt’s director of Content and Data Acquisition. “APIs are at the forefront of how forward-thinking legal professionals are gathering structured data to improve their practices and their legal services delivery.”
Building on the success of the CLE, classes and academic conferences, the CLII hopes to expand its reach by funding additional programs and projects. An anticipated first project will be the Leonard Center, named after Campbell Law School’s Dean Leonard, which will work with the Advocacy program to develop a partnership with a court technology and other corporate partners.
CLII stakeholders agree that now is the time for this project to take root in the law school, the legal community and the profession at large. Cox added, “The Innovation Institute addresses a critical component of pushing for progress in the legal profession: educating legal professionals on leading technology solutions and how to make the most of advances in AI and big data to build more robust, rewarding and profitable law practices, while better serving the clients in their community. The Institute’s focus on AI ethics and the business of law are needed now, as the legal profession, and the legal industry as a whole, are undergoing transformative shifts and have a growing need for outlets to study and shape the impacts of these technological changes.”
Harrison Wicker added, “I looked around at the legal landscape and realized the practice of law was about to drastically change. Realizing the legal technological revolution in law has not quite reached critical mass, now is the time for a project like the Innovation Institute to launch, in order to stay ahead of the curve. My family and I knew Campbell Law is the place, Kevin Lee is the person to get the job done, and now is the time to back his plan.”
ABOUT CAMPBELL LAW
Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2021, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and a dozen years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.
UniCourt is a trusted partner providing the core infrastructure that AmLaw 50 firms and Fortune 500 companies rely on for Legal Data API, case research and case tracking.