LawWithoutWalls, explained

What is LWOW?

LawWithoutWalls ("LWOW") is a part-virtual global collaboratory of 750+ change agents dedicated to changing how lawyers and business professionals partner to solve problems.  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 academic, business, entrepreneur, and legal mentors. Over four months, teams identify a problem related to law and create a business plan for a solution (often a legal startup).

LWOW begins with the KickOff event that includes interactive exercises aimed at fostering idea generation, teaming, self-assessment, presentation, and communication skills and challenges teams to create innovations in hackathon style.

Then, utilizing cutting-edge video technology, we gather for weekly webinars, LWOW Live Sessions, with Thought Leaders to debate hot issues at the intersection of law, technology, and innovation while also working in teams 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, part virtual, collaborative experience that seeds a community of 21st century-ready global change agents and ultimately transforms the way law and business professionals partner to solve problems.

History + Achievements

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. 

Over the 2012-2013 years, we grew in terms of the number of schools outside the U.S. and added business schools to our mix including Wharton and I.E.  In Spring 2014, we explored expansion and scalability with the launch of an all virtual offering, 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/Ethics and Compliance Initiative). 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 with 22 students.  New also for 2015, was the ability for lawyers to gain CLE credit for participating in LWOW live sessions.

In our fifth year, we  quadrupled in size in terms of the number of students to approximately 100.  We more than tripled the number of participating schools and increased the number of business schools involved. Last year, nearly 30 law and business schools from around the world participated, including schools from India, China, Israel, Iceland, and South Africa.  And in addition to offering our original LawWithoutWalls - sponsored by Eversheds, we offer LWOW X (sponsored by Jim Ferraro) and LWOW X Compliance.

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 a community of almost 1000 students, practitioners, academics, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists around the world. Further, via our newly launched incubator, LWOW Inc, LawWithoutWalls offers part-virtual incubation services, courses, and new communication platforms for legal startups and entrepreneurs.  Currently, we are helping two projects become legal startups.  Further, as part of LWOW Inc,  we will host our first PitchPosium in London, a half-day, in-person event in which 7 legal startups pitch to angel and venture capitalist investors (sponsored by Eversheds).

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 and building a community of change agents) 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.