A legal innovation lab launching today seeks to answer the question of how to approach the training and development of new lawyers in an age of generative AI.
The Legal Innovation Lab is being launched by SkillBurst Interactive, a 10-year-old company that provides on-demand training to larger law firms and their corporate clients.
The lab’s focus will be on creating “transformative digital learning solutions for lawyers in the age of generative AI,” the company said, serving as a hub for law firms, legal departments, and others “to create the learning content and digital delivery mechanisms needed as legal embraces the future of work.”
To lead the lab, SkillBurst has named Anusia Gillespie as its chief strategy and growth officer. Gillespie was formerly an executive with global legal services provider UnitedLex and, before that, global co-head of innovation at law firm Eversheds Sutherland. She was also a senior manager at Harvard Law School Executive Education, where she helped design and launch the Women’s Leadership Initiative.
“What does it mean to develop new lawyers in the age of generative AI? This is the question on everyone’s minds,” said Steve Gluckman, SkillBurst Interactive CEO and co-managing partner. “SkillBurst Interactive has been legal’s training partner for a decade, and we’re evolving in-step, launching the Legal Innovation Lab to answer this critical development question with and for our clients.”
‘Push the Envelope’
In an interview yesterday with Gluckman and Gillespie, Gluckman said that SkillBurst started a decade ago with a focus on working with large law firms to build professional development courses. Over the years, it evolved, first to expand the scope of the trainings it offers firms, and then to begin offering training for firms’ clients as well.
But, with the launch of the innovation lab and the hiring of Gillespie, Gluckman sees the company as now entering a new chapter. “We really want to push the envelope, and we want to help in a variety of ways beyond standard on-demand learning.”
For Gillespie, her interest in this role was spurred by a webinar she moderated last year with legal innovation thought leaders Richard Susskind and Mark Cohen in which they talked about the new kinds of technology and innovation-driven jobs coming into the legal market and the critical need for someone to step in and provide training.
As she discussed that concept with Gluckman, she came to believe that SkillBurst was that “someone.”
“I think that SkillBurst, especially though the Legal Innovation Lab, is really well positioned to solve that challenge,” she said. “It seems like the natural choice.”
With the emergence of generative AI in legal, that need for innovative approaches to lawyer development has even more rapidly accelerated, Gillespie believes.
“The way that I think it’s relevant to lawyers is in opening their minds to everything that is coming into their work stream – not necessarily technical training, but the new ways of doing things that is now very much happening in legal.”
That requires not only the development of new training materials, Gillespie said, but also new ways of framing the training that meets people where they are and that is practical and relevant for their everyday workflows.
While much of the training so far around generative AI focuses on how to leverage the tools, Gluckman says there is much more that the legal industry needs to understand, such as the limitations of the technology, the privacy and cybersecurity issues, the data bias and legal ethics issues, and even interdisciplinary collaboration skills for working with data scientists and IT professionals.
Two Key Hires
In this new role, Gillespie will be applying her professional experience and her training as a lawyer both to develop new training programs and to explore new areas in which to develop programs, both to better serve SkillBurst’s existing customers and to help it reach new customers.
She will also be helping the company expand globally and enter new markets.
To help her do that, she has already made two key hires for the Legal Innovation Lab, naming Sam Moore as director of innovation and Karol V. Gomez as strategy and growth specialist.
Moore was most recently the director of vendor relations at Reynen Court, where he was responsible for the vendor-facing side of the Reynen Court platform. He was the first-ever accredited legal technologist for the Law Society of Scotland, and the first dedicated innovation manager at the Glasgow law firm Burness Paull.
Gomez worked with Gillespie at UnitedLex, where she was a program development associate. Earlier, she spent 12 years as a legal assistant and paralegal specialist for U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.
Although the lab is just formally launching today, Gillespie believes it will roll out its first tangible project by the fall. She has already lined up a top-10 law firm that is potentially interested in piloting whatever she develops.
While SkillBurst’s customers have primarily been larger firms and corporations, both Gluckman and Gillespie understand that the era of generative AI is creating a demand for new and innovative training throughout the legal profession.
Gluckman said the company has already been expanding among regional and smaller firms, as well as internationally, and he expects that will continue.
“While our initial focus was Am Law 100 and 200 firms, we’ve definitely expanded beyond that and now we’re looking to lawyers across the entire industry – not just in firms, but everywhere.
“That’s really what we want to be – a resource for every lawyer that’s doing this stuff.”