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School of Law

Law, money and technology

John Haskell outlines how the School of Law is expanding its programme of curricular and extracurricular events focused on finance and government, and the role of law in shaping future policy reform.

The School of Law is at the forefront of University-wide efforts to make a real difference in meeting the challenges facing working people, both here in the UK and across the world. Whether in directions related to money or technology, legal architecture underwrites the gamut of everyday life and naturally lends itself to cross-sector, interdisciplinary activity.

We often speak as if economic custom is a whirlwind of anarchic unplanned transactions that business and society struggle to keep up with. But behind all customs are legal regimes backed up with force (e.g. property rights). And these legal regimes are the deliberate, purposeful decision of people in myriad walks of life.

In other words, thinking about the intersection of law, money and technology lets us creatively reimagine our policy options.

Collaboration 

One of the most exciting aspects of being part of the community at The University of Manchester is the ongoing collaboration to understand and help shape this intersection of money, regulation and technology in multiple governance contexts.

This engagement is currently underway between hundreds of academics and students throughout the University which is partnering with colleagues across a variety of government, industry and social sectors, with many of these initiatives taking place in coordination with the School of Law. 

Indeed, under the vision of the University’s President Nancy Rothwell and professors such as Andrew James (Associate Dean for Business Engagement and External Relations) and Claire McGourlay (Director of Learning and Teaching at the School of Law), the question of digital futures for regulation and social innovation is quickly becoming one of the core expansions in our legal education and research platform.

New courses

The School of Law is launching one of the first application-based law tech courses in the UK – Legal Tech and Access to Justice. In partnership with Freshfields Brockhaus Derringer and Neota Logic, the module will offer undergraduate students the opportunity to be exposed to weekly ‘real world’ lectures from experts in business and technology, hands on training in legal technology, and actual business engagement with non-profit organisations.

The assessment will go beyond traditional criteria, with students building an automated application from conceptual design to final production and licensing, gaining skills working with technicians and clients.

In addition, the School of Law is kick-starting a certificate in legal technology whereby participants will have the opportunity to learn from experts who have founded and worked with industry leaders, such as DWF, Freshfields, SYKE and Radiant Law.

Other similar opportunities available to students range from attending employability sessions focused on legaltech and scholarly events investigating new digital regulatory landscapes, to enrolling in courses focused on developing data literacy and balancing ethical questions over its appropriate implementation. These curricular and extracurricular innovations will only expand in the coming years.

Law and technology students in discussion

Students working on knowledge and technology initiatives.

Breadth of knowledge

The School of Law enjoys a long tradition of eminent commercial, corporate and financial law scholars, and the current academic staff is comprised of scholars from all over the world with diverse research interests.

It is difficult to capture the breadth of projects underway, but some of the most recent efforts highlight the cosmopolitan, interdisciplinary character of the School’s community.

For instance, with support from the University’s Humanities Strategic Investment Fund (HSIF), the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC) is running a robust agenda to create a network of cross-disciplinary researchers - primarily in international relations, international law, and political economy and business management - to address ongoing public-private challenges in global governance.

In addition to taking on organisational roles in annual events, this last academic year MILC brought out more than 15 scholars to share their policy and research ideas with students and academic colleagues on their recorded seminar series.

“Thinking about the intersection of law, money and technology lets us creatively re-imagine our policy options. ”

MILC also hosted a large workshop in conjunction with Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP), and ran a series of public and closed workshops on a range of issues from foreign relations with Russia to democratic reform and financial investment in formerly colonised countries.

Academics from across The University of Manchester - for instance, colleagues involved in the Business and Human Rights Catalyst at Alliance Manchester Business School - often participate in these events, expanding the spectrum of how we think about law’s engagement with governance.

Partnerships

The School of Law has also entered into a formal partnership, with the University of Sheffield School of Law and Cornell University School of Law.

This partnership draws together academic and policy-oriented networks in the United States, the UK and Europe to rethink contemporary governance approaches to politics, money and the law. Our goal is that this research collaboration will contribute to new thinking and practices in academic thought, government policy, and private industry practices.

The LMI co-hosted its first large conference on shadow banking at the University of Sheffield this autumn, and is already engaging with a variety of law and economy networks, such as the Association for the Promotion of Political Economy and Law, the Modern Money Network, and the Institute for New Economic Thinking Young Scholars Initiative.

Dr John D. Haskell is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, where he teaches commercial, theory and technology oriented courses and co-directs the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC) and Law and Money Initiative (LMI).