When you think of law you might associate it with words like: tort, testimony, even tribunal. What you may not link it to is trend or Twitter. But that’s precisely what happened at a recent law conference staged by the University of Westminster Law School and Michigan State University College of Law.

The universities’ ReInvent Law London 2013 conference - the culmination of their 21st Century Law Practice London Summer Programme - found itself making hashtag headlines on the social media site.

Westminster Law School is already gearing students up for the future with the introduction of a new module, 21st Century Law Practice in the UK, which will focus on new approaches to law and legal services.

Twenty students, ten each from the UK and US universities, got their first taste of what this module would deliver when they attended the summer school to look at how they could use new technology to advance law structures and become entrepreneurial lawyers. They also looked at how they could make legal services and justice more accessible to the public.

The summer school culminated in the ReInvent Law London 2013 Conference, which featured engaging talks from leaders in law, technology, and business examining the future of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in the legal services industry.

“We wanted as academics to create a forum where people who had new ideas were able to present them in a punchy way,” said Dr Lisa Webley, Professor of Empirical Legal Studies at Westminster Law School and one of the conference speakers.

“We made it as technologically easy as possible, with two large twitter screens and we had people tweeting all day. We were the top trending hashtag on twitter through the afternoon.”

One group of students won the vote by their peers to pitch their forward-thinking idea at ReInvent before an audience of esteemed scholars, legal professionals, entrepreneurs and technology experts from around the globe.

“Lawyers are regulated to the point where it stifles innovation,” said Michigan State University College of Law Professor Renee Newman Knake, co-coordinator of ReInvent Law London 2013. “Law is about imagining possibilities and gathering the game changers who will build the future of the industry.”

For the students, there was the added bonus of networking at the highest level, with the outcome of one getting a paid internship, seven others getting other paid legal writing roles and two others unpaid invaluable work experience.

“Providing new ways of delivering legal services is part of our public legal information responsibility,” said Professor Webley. “As educators and lawyers we haven’t always been very good at educating the public about the law - their legal rights and responsibilities. We often forget that people may well be able to do a lot to negotiate positive outcomes for themselves if they have the right information and basic advice. So if we can help people through developing cutting-edge legal practices, than all the better.”

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