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September 9, 2013

CONTACT: Kent Love, director of communications, 517-432-6959; kent.love@law.msu.edu

MSU Law’s ReInvent Law Lab Wins International Innovation Award

The ReInvent Law Laboratory at Michigan State University College of Law was named a 2013 InnovAction Award winner in recognition of its work to promote innovation in the legal services industry.

The InnovAction Awards—now in their ninth year—recognize outstanding innovation in the field of law and delivery of legal services. According to the College of Law Practice Management, which administers the InnovAction program, the awards highlight “what can happen when passionate professionals, with big ideas and strong convictions, resolve to create effective change.”

The ReInvent Law Laboratory at Michigan State Law—created in spring 2012 by Professors Renee Newman Knake and Daniel Martin Katz—is devoted to technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in legal services. The project has spawned new courses in e-discovery, quantitative methods for lawyers, professional ethics and technology, and entrepreneurial lawyering, as well as a London study abroad program that exposes students to deregulation and innovation in the U.K. legal market.

ReInvent Law conferences have brought legal professionals, students, entrepreneurs, scholars, and technology experts together in London, Dubai, and Silicon Valley to reimagine the future of the profession. The next event will be held in New York City on February 7, 2014.
Timothy Corcoran, chair of the 2013 InnovAction awards committee, says the judges were impressed by this year’s “groundbreaking” entries. “The winning entries exemplify not only innovation, but the practical necessity for bold ideas to benefit multiple stakeholders,” he noted. “This year’s winners reflect an admirable clients-first approach.”

The coveted annual awards highlight “unsung heroes and rising stars within the legal profession who dare to think differently and succeed by doing so,” according to the InnovAction awards website. Entries are judged based on originality, disruption of the industry status quo, value to clients and/or the industry, and effectiveness.

“Future survival of a vital and contributing legal profession now depends on the innovative, unstuffy thinking of a few individuals and organizations around the world,” said InnovAction judge Thomas Clay.

“If I was going to stand up in front of my students and really believe that having a legal degree and a career as a lawyer can be among the most fulfilling career choices a person can make, I needed to do something to make sure that would be true going forward,” Knake says. That “something” became ReInvent Law, which Knake describes as “a space where Dan and I could build an on-the-ground tool for rethinking the ways we deliver legal services, and then train our students and practicing lawyers to do it.”

“The part of the legal profession that actually is growing needs people with a particular set of skills,” adds Katz, whose work focuses on the intersection of law, technology, and public policy. “We need lawyers who know the law, understand software and technology, and know how to mesh the two.”

The 2013 InnovAction award winners also include U.K.-based Riverview Law and the University of California, Irvine School of Law’s Consumer Protection Clinic. The awards will be presented on Friday, October 4, at a special session of the 2013 Futures Conference in Chicago.

Within days of the InnovAction Award announcement, Professors Katz and Knake were selected for the ABA Journal’s 2013 list of Legal Rebels, which honors the change leaders of the legal profession.

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