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Jo-Anne Pugh

Dean, BPP University Law School

Does AI have a place in legal education?

Does AI have a place in legal education?


Jo-Anne Pugh considers how educators can give law students the best possible grounding in using artificial intelligence.

There isn’t a sector that isn’t considering how artificial intelligence (AI) could open up new ways of working for them. In fact, according to Office for National Statistics figures from June this year, 15 per cent of all UK businesses were estimated to have adopted at least one AI technology, to support with everything from operational efficiencies to customer service.

The legal sector is no different. AI presents a range of new opportunities for firms and lawyers, from supporting with research and drafting briefs to analysing contracts and reviewing documents.

The adoption of this technology was evidenced in a report from Thomson Reuters in June, which found that 54 per cent of practising lawyers believed that AI is a tool that can help with legal matters. This is followed by Law firm Allen & Overy also launching its own AI platform ‘Harvey’, to support its 3,500 staff with drafting contracts, generating insights and predictions, and regulatory compliance and litigation.

But AI’s use in law hasn’t all been plain sailing. An airline lawyer in the US made headlines across the globe after they used ChatGPT to conduct research for a case, which used example legal cases that did not exist. This raised questions for the sector around how it can – and should – use the technology safely.

AI in legal education

While AI is becoming a key tool for practising lawyers, is there a role for the technology in legal education?

Given the pace of AI adoption in the workplace, there is an onus on legal educators to make sure students are equipped to use the technology sensibly and ethically for future employment.

This isn’t the first time the education sector has found itself questioning whether to introduce nascent technologies in some way into the classroom. The introduction of Google many years ago left educators in a similar situation, questioning whether the search engine would have an impact on learning and lead to ‘cheating’ and whether they needed to teach students how to use it in the correct way. Fast forward to today, however, and most of us use Google daily.

Creating desk-ready lawyers

As the adoption of AI in the legal sector increases, training providers will need to adapt in some way and consider how we prepare students to use it in their future workplace effectively and ethically.

We all have experience of AI in our personal lives, whether that’s using facial recognition to unlock our smartphones, getting personalised content on our social media channels, or using Google maps to navigate our way around. To ensure our future lawyers are desk ready, however, and confident using AI in the workplace, there are some further steps we need to take.

At BPP, we have adopted an AI-powered personalised adaptive learning platform which uses machine learning technology to create bespoke pathways for our students to learn at their own pace and gather insights on their performance. This has allowed us to help students cope with large-scale multiple choice question assessments such as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination and bar centralised assessments in civil and criminal law.

However, providing students with access to this technology during their early development as lawyers in the comfort of an educational environment also gives them some initial insight into the potential of AI technologies. This first-hand experience is something they’ll be able to build on in a professional capacity once joining a firm.


Contrary to popular belief, AI is unlikely to change how we deliver legal education in the UK – particularly in the near future.

There is no question that we need to make sure students understand how to use it ethically and confidently, to avoid a similar situation to the airline lawyer case in the US happening again. However, I’m confident technology will never replace the role of experienced lecturers and supportive classroom environments in training our future lawyers.

Jo-Anne Pugh is Dean of BPP University Law School.