Two students from the University of Birmingham joined a groundbreaking summer scheme at Fieldfisher on 21 June. Chizurum Ogedengbe and Bronya Evans are studying for an MSc in Responsible Data Science, which began in September 2022. The course was created in collaboration with industry and in partnership with Accenture, and Fieldfisher is supporting the development of the programme by offering the opportunity of paid work experience in the firm's e-discovery team.
Industry, academia and law firm collaboration
The scheme grew out of panel firm Fieldfisher's collaboration with Accenture and the University of Birmingham to create an MSc aimed at the legal industry but focused on data science rather than the traditional routes in to the profession. This is the second year of the MSc and Fieldfisher's first full vacation scheme.
Expect this to be the course of the future
Tim Bird, partner at Fieldfisher, who has been pivotal in the creation of the MSc, explained why he believes this kind of course will become more and more popular:
"The ability to interpret and apply computer science-related skills, whilst critically understanding the legal and ethical impact of their work is integral to the future of the legal and commercial industry. We are also keen to support access to the profession from diverse backgrounds and this course is very much constructed with IED in mind. We very much hope this continues the close relationship with the University of Birmingham."
Growing demand for capabilities around Responsible AI
Christina Demetriades, General Counsel at Accenture, said:
"Our own journey with AI and anticipating the emergence of regulations around AI, helped us identify there would be a demand for lawyers and technologists with capabilities around Responsible AI, and were delighted to find the University of Birmingham was already of a like mind. By partnering with the University of Birmingham and working together with leading technology firms like Fieldfisher, we are pleased to be supporting the development of the next generation of lawyers and technologists with great experience in the field and are delighted for the experience that Chizurum and Bronya have an opportunity to apply their skills first-hand at Fieldfisher."
Professor Karen Yeung, from Birmingham Law School and School of Computer Science added:
“The underlying motivation for establishing this cross-disciplinary Masters programme is to equip legal professionals with the technical and analytical knowledge skills that are needed if we are to understand and rise to the challenges, risks and opportunities created by advances in AI and other data-driven technologies. We are delighted that Chizurum and Bronya have an opportunity to apply those skills first-hand at Fieldfisher.”
Fiona Campbell, Director and lead of Fieldfisher's e-disclosure practice, explained what the students worked on during their placement:
"Chizurum and Bronya embarked on a number of legal research and drafting tasks, the output of which was to help the firm identify and consider appropriate artificial intelligence models to enhance the firm's standing as a forerunner of legal technology and e-Disclosure services. Chizurum and Bronya also engaged in some hands-on experience when they helped with populating a digital trial bundle for a large-scale matter in the High Court."
Fast-changing AI is a threat as well as a benefit
Explaining her motivation for embarking on the MSc, Bronya sad:
"Artificial intelligence is transforming every industry, policy sector and element of our lives and the developments we are seeing in AI at the moment are outstanding. Whilst these technologies have exceptional benefits, new challenges and threats raise questions about the limits of their responsible use. This is the reason I decided to undertake the MSc in Responsible Data Science. The skills needed to truly identify and understand these emerging issues are not present in a law degree, so the interdisciplinary nature of this course has allowed me to these gain technology-focused skills and provided a new insight into this sector."
Chizurum explained why the course appealed to her:
"The structure of the MSc in Responsible Data Science, particularly the content of the interdisciplinary modules and the opportunity to gain industry experience, were the main factors that influenced my decision to undertake the degree. Having worked in different practice areas since qualifying as a lawyer in Nigeria in 2015, I was finally ready to return to the classroom. I wanted a tech-related masters, particularly something that will help me stay abreast with technological innovations and give me the opportunity to work on new and exciting things. The MSc program ticked all my boxes and stood out from the other offers I got because of the technical component of the course, something LLM programs did not offer, and the opportunity to gain relevant work experience while on the course."
Photo, L to R: Paul Grelon, Chizurum Ogendengbe, Bronya Evans, Fiona Campbell
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