Harnessing the future: Former Brooklyn Law Dean Nick Allard on navigating legal practice in the AI age

August 2, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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There is no doubt that artificial intelligence is going to change the way the legal profession operates, but it may still be too early to tell exactly how. In a recent piece, Nick Allard, the founding Randall C. Berg Jr. dean of the Jacksonville University College of Law and a former president and dean of Brooklyn Law School, discusses this transformation and its potential implications for the future of law.

Allard, who throughout his career in government service, legal practice and academia has been a key player in discussions about technology’s societal, legal and policy impacts, rightly suggests that the legal profession is at the crossroads of an AI revolution.

The former Brooklyn Law School dean describes the change in legal practice and education from manual research using “in the stacks” volumes of case reporters and statutes, to online searchable legal materials.

“No new lawyer or law student mourns the demise of assignments to manually ‘Shepardize’ cited cases,” Allard wrote, referencing the process of verifying the validity of legal precedents.

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While attorneys and law schools have traditionally been slow to adapt to new technology, Allard warns that the acceleration of AI applications will necessitate faster adaptation.

“The truth is that the AI horse is already out of the barn, and the only question is how best to ride it to get to where you need to go without falling off in a ditch,” he said.

Allard suggests that understanding AI and staying informed about its legal and justice implications are becoming vital for practitioners. This includes staying current on evolving professional and legal rules applicable to AI use in practice and maintaining a level of technological competence as prescribed by the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules and various state rules.

He also discusses the ethical dilemmas posed by AI, such as addressing inherent bias in AI algorithms, managing the creation and dissemination of misinformation, and dealing with the disparities in equal justice that can be exacerbated by AI.

Furthermore, Allard believes that technology should be seen as a tool that can enhance the delivery of legal services and create opportunities for legal professionals to engage in more complex, creative problem-solving tasks.

“Technology-driven change — we hope for the better — is relentlessly inevitable,” Allard said. “Lawyers who learn how to make good use of new and advanced technology like ChatGPT, while managing risks and mitigating potential misuse, will certainly have a competitive advantage.”

Allard is a highly esteemed attorney and legal educator, currently serving as the founding dean of the College of Law at Jacksonville University. Prior to this role, he had a distinguished tenure at Brooklyn Law School, serving as dean from 2012 to 2018, president from 2014 to 2018 and professor of law from 2012 to 2020.

In the professional sphere, Dean Allard held key roles at prestigious law firms, including a recent stint as senior counsel at Dentons US LLP, a Washington D.C.-based branch of the world’s largest law firm. His expertise spans a wide range of sectors, such as privacy, telecommunications, technology, health, energy, environmental law, compliance and higher education, earning him recognition as a leading lawyer and a “Visionary” award.

Beyond his professional achievements, Dean Allard has been a committed member of the American Bar Association, where he held various committee positions and currently chairs its Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress. His volunteer leadership spans prestigious institutions like Princeton University, Oxford University, the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, Cambridge University, Catholic University of America, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.

Dean Allard received his JD from Yale Law School and his BA from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. As a Rhodes Scholar, he obtained an MA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Oxford University. He also gained invaluable legal insights through clerkships with the late U.S. Chief District Judge Robert F. Peckham and the late U.S. Appellate Judge Patricia M. Wald.


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