LawWithoutWalls, explained

What is LWOW?

LawWithoutWalls ("LWOW") is a global collaboratory of 750+ change agents dedicated to changing legal education and practice.  LWOW:

  1. Creates a global, transdisciplinary think-tank around technology, innovation, and law
  2. Accelerates practicable innovations at the intersection of business, law, and technology;
  3. Hones critical twenty-first century professional services skills (collaboration, cultural competency, project management, intrapreneurship, technology, problem-solving, communication, business acumen, networking, and leadership); and
  4. Cultivates collaborative relationships with clients, internal colleagues, and future talent from countries around the globe


LWOW teams 100 students from 30 law and business schools around the world with mentors form the academic, business, and legal, fields. Over four months, teams identify a vexing problem in legal education or practice and create a business plan for a legal startup to solve the problem.

LWOW begins with the KickOff event that includes interactive exercises aimed at fostering idea generation, teaming, self-assessment, presentation, and communication skills.

Then, utilizing cutting-edge video technology, we gather weekly online to debate hot issues at the intersection of law, technology, and innovation while also working on the legal startups.

The LWOW experience concludes at the ConPosium, an interactive event wherein teams showcase their solutions to a panel of multi-disciplinary judges, including venture capitalists, who assess the substance, viability, and creativity of the projects.

Mission Statement

The mission of LawWithoutWalls is to accelerate innovation at the intersection of business, technology, and law through a dynamic, transformational, collaborative experience that seeds a community of global change agents that can, together, meet the needs and solve the problems of today’s complex, technological, global marketplace.


LawWithoutWalls, founded by Professor Michele DeStefano, began in January 2011 with twenty-three students from six law schools. Four of these original schools are located within the United States: University of Miami, Harvard, NYLS, and Fordham. Two institutions are located outside the United States:  Peking University and University College London.

By January 2015, our fifth year, we doubled in size in terms of the number of students to approximately fifty.  Further, we more than tripled the number of participating schools and increased the number of business schools involved. Nearly 30 law and business schools from around the world participated, including schools from India, China, Israel, Iceland, and South Africa.  Additionally, our community now totals more than 750 people.

In Spring 2014, we explored expansion and scalability with the launch of LWOW X.  LWOW X offers the same components and benefits as the original LWOW offering, only it does so completely online. It is an attempt to reach more students from more places, irrespective of financial situation and school status. Further, LWOW X is an attempt to create an all-virtual, synchronous learning experience that applies rhizomatic education to develop a sense of community as robust as that achieved through in-person interaction.

The LWOW X pilot proved a success. As a result, January 2015 saw the launch of a second LWOW X cycle, as well as a sister program, LWOW X Compliance (all-virtual with a focus on ethics and compliance; developed in partnership with the Ethics Resource Center). In 2015, LWOW X grew from 7 law and business schools across 6 countries to 12 law and business schools across 9 countries. The inaugural session of LWOW X Compliance had 11 participating law and business schools across 6 countries.

Now beginning its sixth year, LWOW has grown from one collaboratory of 16 students across six schools to a variety of multidisciplinary offerings involving nearly thirty schools and hundreds of students, practitioners, academics, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists around the world. While we have expanded in scope and form, our core values—cultural competency, project management, virtual technology, presentation, leadership, problem solving, and innovation skills—and primary mission—innovating the dynamics of legal education and practice—remain the same.

Website information

The website, powered by Squarespace, was designed and built by Erika Pagano, Associate Director, and Lauren Madigan, Program Manager. Photos across the site were taken by Ashley Matthews (LWOW 2012), Nick Madigan (LWOW Archivist), Jenny Abreu, and other LWOW community members.