The deans of Northwestern University’s law school and McKormick School of Engineering and Applied Science have joined forces to argue for more integration between legal and engineering studies. That seems like an idea worth pursuing. Technology is taking an ever greater role in our work as lawyers and in our clients’ business models. But how many lawyers are well-grounded in engineering, and how many engineers or developers have an understanding of the legal issues associated with the technology they are producing?
The more that we as lawyers understand technology, e.g. how communication protocols in the internet of things actually work, the better placed we will be to help our clients pursue strategic opportunities through technology and to manage risk in doing so. And the better understanding the engineers have of the role their products will play in a tightly knit web of legal rules, the better they will be able to build compliance and risk management into the heart of those products and to know when to get in touch with their legal counterparts.
Two US academics believe that the rapidly expanding technology landscape demands greater knowledge ties between the legal and engineering professions, perhaps beginning as early as university curriculum.