A hybrid qualification in law and technology could be one of the first outputs of a unique partnership between legal practices and academics taking shape in the Manchester area. The aim is to fill a gap in the skills that will be required by the next generation of legal professionals, Andrew James, professor of innovation management & policy at Alliance Manchester Business School, told the Gazette: 'We're looking at a recognised standard for skills, a hybrid of legal and technology.' 

James was speaking as the Law & Technology Initiative announced that three new legal sector partners had joined what it says is the first industry-academic research collaboration of its type in the UK. The initiative enables law firms and chambers to work with three University of Manchester institutions, covering law and computer science as well as business. The three founding legal partners were DWF Ventures, a spinoff from international firm DWF, as well as magic circle firm Freshfields Brukhaus Derringer and top-50 firm Weightmans.  

Apart from the work on skills, the initiative has begun research on technology adoption and computer science and data analytics. 

The latest partners are barristers chambers St John’s Buildings, Southport-headquartered Fletchers Solicitors and Cheshire-based specialist consumer rights firm Bott and Co.

James said: 'The legal sector is evolving thanks to the growing impact of technology. It’s vital we keep abreast of these changes and equip graduates with the skills they need to navigate the sector both now and in the future. Learning involves more than just academia. It’s important we collaborate with industry partners so that we can capitalise on our mutual expertise by combining real-life practical experience with robust academic research to deliver both innovative teaching and provide unique insight on the digital transformation of legal services.'