LawWithoutWalls ("LWOW") is a part-virtual global collaboratory
of 750+ change agents dedicated to changing how lawyers and business professionals partner to solve problems.
What does LWOW do?
- Creates a global, transdisciplinary think-tank around technology, innovation, and law
- Accelerates practicable innovations at the intersection of business, law, and technology;
- Hones critical twenty-first century professional services skills (collaboration, cultural competency, project management, intrapreneurship, technology, problem-solving, communication, business acumen, networking, and leadership); and
- Cultivates collaborative relationships with clients, internal colleagues, and future talent from countries around the globe
How does LWOW work?
Through a dynamic experience, LWOW accelerates innovation and seeds a global community of change agents that are transforming the way lawyers and business professionals partner to solve problems at the intersection of law, business, and technology.
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). In the process, LWOW refines 21st Century professionals skills, recharges the law market with innovations across law, business, and technology, and revitalizes relationships with colleagues, clients, and future talent across the globe.
This blended (part virtual, part in-person) 4-month program is designed to equip experienced and inexperienced talent with new skills and new contacts to make them more successful global business leaders armed with the knowledge and expertise to meet the challenges of the economic pressures, technological advances, and globalization that have dramatically reshaped the legal market (and that will continue to do so in the years to come).
Although there are different LWOW offerings (focused on different aspects of the law market and that have slightly different formats), all offerings have the same three phases:
Phase 1: The KickOff
LWOW begins with a 1- to 2-day KickOff: a collaborative, skills-intensive working session designed to challenge the way we think, the way we learn, and the way we communicate with each other. It is also designed to solve problems in law, technology, and business. Students along with business professionals, academics, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and lawyers from around the world learn how to innovate and affect change in daily life back at work or at school.
At the KickOff, we engage in interactive exercises to foster idea generation, entrepreneurism, brainstorming, teaming, self-assessment, presentation, and networking skills. We build our law market and knowledge base and see firsthand how legal startups pitch and how venture capitalists respond. We learn from experts in improvisation how to communicate and network more effectively in a corporate, multicultural, and collaborative environment. And importantly, over two days, in hackathon-like style, teams create and present innovations: real solutions facing law, business, and technology. | Learn more
Phase 2: Virtual Teaming
Thought Leadership Webinars
Subsequent to the KickOff, utilizing cutting-edge video technology, the LWOW Community gathers online each week to debate hot issues at the intersection of law, technology, and innovation.
LWOW Live webinars, thought leaders from different disciplines and cultures lead the sessions via video technology as participants chat or video conference in real-time. For students, these sessions are considered part of weekly class time and count towards credits. For other participants, these sessions are an opportunity to network, learn from Thought Leaders, and have a voice in the debate about the law market’s future. For lawyers specifically, these sessions are available for CLE credit. | Learn more
Online Business Plan Development via Virtual Dynamic Teaming
Simultaneously, teams meet online with mentors to investigate their topic, fine tune their problem, find a solution, develop a business plan, and co-create a prototype and presentation—what we call a Project of Worth. Teams are required to meet one hour each week with one or more of their mentors. These meetings are considered part of weekly class time and count towards credits.
We call the final product a Project of Worth because it is is much more than a paper, presentation, or idea—it is a real solution to a real problem facing the legal marketplace. More than that, this Project is of Worth because, in the process of creation, the mentors and student creators alike bolster knowledge and hone those skills that are essential to being successful global business leaders and partners—and that are not normally (nor easily) taught in a traditional lecture or classroom format.
PHASE 3: ConPosium
Final Presentations of Business Plans & Prototypes
The LWOW experience concludes at the ConPosium, an interactive event wherein teams showcase their innovations to the LWOW Community and a panel of multidisciplinary judges, including venture capitalists, who assess the substance, viability, and creativity of the projects.
As others have described it, the ConPosium “is the future.” It is “a legal Ted talk show on steroids” with presentations that include “musical scores, documentary footage, and oral advocacy all while live chats are scrolled on a large screen,” (Roy Black, Black’s Law, May 13, 2015). Put simply, the ConPosium showcases LawWithoutWalls-built skills and executable innovations for the law market.
More than that, this two-day event brings together the LWOW Community at large and represents an opportunity to reconnect and connect anew with people from all different ages, disciplines, and cultures that share a common charge: an interest in changing the way lawyers practice and the way that they partner with business professionals to solve problems. | Learn more
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.
The future of law requires a mentality of a world of law without walls. Given the current global, complex, multi-disciplinary legal marketplace, successful lawyers of tomorrow must be creative problem solvers and leaders with a higher risk tolerance and business mindset who can use technology, social media, and innovation and teaming skills to overcome the walls of law.
Further, solutions to the challenges of tomorrow call for more collaboration and permeability between legal practice and legal education (during and after law school) and more interaction between legal professionals and people of different disciplines and different cultures. It is through these types of interactions that critical 21st century skills are honed, true innovation occurs, and interdependent relationships are built.
These types of interactions, however, are stymied by current legal education and practice—both of which are ridden with hierarchies (based on rank, expertise, and title), barriers to entry, and staid ways of training and learning. Further, the skills needed by 21st century service providers are incapable of being sharpened in a traditional in-person or online law school, CLE, or executive education format. These skills take time and require a multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural, technologically-blended teaming experience to be nurtured. Thus, what is needed for the 21st century legal services provider is a completely new and fresh approach to training, innovating, and community building.
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, we offered 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 several become legal startups.
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.
The lawwithoutwalls.org 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. Infographics created by Erika Pagano and Erika Ly (LWOW 2015).