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The University of Newcastle and Sparke Helmore Lawyers are proud to announce the Legal Design and Innovation Project—a research partnership that will explore the intersection between law, design and technology, and what digital disruption means for the future of law students and lawyers. 

The Project aims to connect students, academics and the legal industry with the needs of the people who interface with the legal system using human-centred design practices.

Sparke Helmore’s Director of Know-How Sonja Swansborough leads the firm’s involvement with the Project. “We revel in opportunities such as this—to have a positive impact on the future of the legal profession. Sparke Helmore has an exceptional resource of forward-thinking lawyers and we are constantly looking at ways to advance, improve and future-proof our systems and processes. It makes a lot of sense for us to be involved in this Project”, she commented.

Greg Guest, the firm’s Local Managing Partner in Newcastle, added: “It’s great to be a part of something that truly aligns to our values and vision, that also comes out of our firm’s home town. We have such a rich history in Newcastle, which we’re very proud of, but we also love being involved in the future of the city and the innumerable exciting projects that start here”.

The Project will be run out of the University’s state-of-the-art building, NewSpace. Headed up by Professor Lisa Toohey and Conjoint Associate Professor Sara Rayment, the Project focuses on better understanding the nature of legal innovation, including how the mindsets of lawyers impact these developments, how new technologies (such as artificial intelligence) can make the law more or less accessible and how the legal system as a whole can facilitate user-friendly innovation.

“We are very proud to partner with Sparke Helmore on this cutting-edge research project. The Australian legal sector is just beginning to understand the future technological challenges facing the profession, but the real question is how to meet those challenges while simultaneously delivering better access to justice. We are focussing on the important pre-condition for successfully integrating technology into legal practice—the innovation and design process,” said Professor Toohey.  

“Newcastle Law School is already helping our students develop an innovative mindset, cementing our reputation as a leader in clinical legal education. This partnership will give our students the opportunity to apply their skills to real-world innovation case studies.”

Conjoint Associate Professor Sara Rayment added: “Our legal system was designed to be so costly and complex that people would not use it for fear that courts would be inundated. The world has changed a lot since then. Human-centred design practices give us the opportunity to imagine what our legal system could be if it was built for the people it serves rather than those who enforce it”.

The official launch of the Legal Design and Innovation Project will take place in Newcastle on Tuesday 13 November 2018.

About Sparke Helmore

Sparke Helmore Lawyers has a client first approach to everything we do.  We are a firm with more than 800 people working from nine offices across Australia, serving the needs of the insurance, government, financial services, technology, mining, construction and property sectors. Our expertise spans corporate and commercial to construction, workplace to insurance, IP to IPOs, mining to manufacturing, and property to procurement.

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