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Deakin law students team with world-wide universities to showcase their collaborative, creative problem-solving skills.

In a first for Deakin Law School (DLS), a team of students has participated in the unique global legal education program Law Without Walls (LWOW).

Organised by the University of Miami, LWOW is an award winning program that brings together global teams of students (mentored by leading industry professionals) who create solutions for real-life legal problems.

Each student is from a different university, and usually in different jurisdictions, with a mentor cohort that is culturally and geographically diverse.

With topic challenges that include a business, legal practice or social justice problem, the LWOW program is designed to change the mind-sets, skill-sets and behaviours of practising and aspiring lawyers says DLS academic Rose Inglis.

‘Given that 21st century lawyers must be creative problem-solvers, have excellent cross-cultural communication skills, and become leaders with a high risk tolerance and a business mindset that can deploy technology, collaboration, leadership and communications skills to overcome the walls of law, LWOW focuses on multidisciplinary skill building, multicultural teaming and solution ideation and prototyping.’

Five-step program

DLS students Toby Fadida, Kim Koelmeyer, Eric Lay and Zach Moon all participated in LWOW and each student was placed in a team with three other law and business students from different global universities (including Harvard, University College of London and Bucerius).

Over four months, the students were led through a five-step program where they learned the process of bringing a great idea to market with the leadership mentor group including a diverse mix of law and business professionals working at the intersection of law, technology and innovation.

Eric Lay and Kim Koelmeyer travelled to to IE University in Segovia, Spain for the kick off and then on to the University of Miami for the ConPosium – the final event where each team pitched their “Project of Worth” to a panel of consisting of judges, VCs and 200 legal practitioners, business professionals, academics and students.

Big-world challenges

Kim’s topic challenge – “Waste Not, Want Change: how can advances in technology further a reduction in food waste?” – was sponsored by Accenture, the global consulting firm.

She was placed in a team with students from University of Sydney and University of Pennsylvania and mentors from Accenture, Wavelength Law, Bifrost University and the Immigrant Youth Project based in New York.

Kim Koelmeyer and Eric Lay in the midst of a ConPosium networking event

The team’s project – which consisted of a pitch, detailed business plan, prototype and advertisement – was STU, an app that provides consumers with consistent information on food freshness to combat food waste in the home.

Consisting of a food tracker, sniffer, recipes, guidance and a community function, the app ensures users are equipped to change their food behaviours.

Toby’s topic challenge was “Helping Heroes: How can technology increase veterans’ legal literacy?”  

Working in a team of students from the Bucerius Law School (Germany), the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil) and the University of Lille (France), Toby’s “Project of Worth” was LeVet - an app to help female veterans of the US Marine Corps navigate through the discharge process which aimed to improve post-service socio-economic outcomes. 

‘My team has also received an offer from a firm to do some of the legal work associated with LeVet on a pro bono basis. Currently, the team members and our mentors [academic, accounting and law professionals] are working on an engagement letter while also considering the possibilities of bringing LeVet to life,’ he says.

In an outstanding effort Kim won “Best Branding” for her team’s project while Toby’s team won the “Best Idea” category.

Enhanced career opportunities

After travelling to both Spain and the USA for the program, Eric says that participating in LWOW has greatly enhanced his study experience and expanded his potential career opportunities.

‘As I am applying for graduate programs and traineeships this year, participating in LWOW distinguishes me from other candidates as I have diversified my legal experience with business, technology and entrepreneurship. This has opened up potential career opportunities that I would not have if I had not done LWOW.’

For Toby, it was the opportunity to see the law from a difference perspective that initially attracted him to the program.

‘In Australia we often tend to associate law with Anglophonic common law  and I wanted to extend what I associate with law … [the program] has enhanced my cross-cultural communication and collaboration confidence and exposed me to a social and “real life” side of law,’ he says.

 One of the added benefits for the DLS students was LWOW’s inclusion as a Work Integrated Learning program which meant they gained course credits as well as a global perspective to their legal education.

‘This experiential learning environment ultimately equips students for the challenges of working in a global workplace,’ says Ms Inglis.

Zach discovered that the LWOW experience equipped him with the hands-on knowledge that 21st century legal professionals are now expected to work both collaboratively and globally.

‘The program is designed to add another dimension to their legal education by providing an opportunity to develop skills not necessarily gained through traditional legal education,’ he says.

Kim, who is studying a combined arts and law degree, says the LWOW has enabled her to upskill her commercial and business acumen.

‘As an arts/law student I’d had little opportunity to become commercially minded, and I was cognisant of that gap in my toolkit. So when LWOW came along it served as an invaluable opportunity to not only learn what goes into a viable venture, but to then put it into practice.’

If you are interested in applying for LWOW 2020, please look out for more details during T2  or contact Rose Inglis at r.inglis@deakin.edu.au for more information.

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