Staying ahead of the curve

In his third year of the JD, Arj Wijegunaratne enrolled in Law Apps to equip himself with the skills he saw as important to the future of the legal services industry.

Arj Wijegunaratne

“We’re at a point now that it’s almost undeniable that technology is going to be heavily involved in the future of law,” Arj says.

“Those who don’t adapt are going to be left behind.”

With a Bachelor of Commerce under his belt, Arj arrived at Melbourne Law School seeking the “full university experience”. He opened himself up to an array of different opportunities around the law school, getting involved in a number of different roles within the Law Students’ Society and the Law Review.

It was through the Law Review that he began developing an automated referencing tool tailored to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation. For Arj, the experience opened the door to the world of legal technology.

“My time as an AGLC Online Developer has been one of my most valuable experiences during the JD,” he says.

In choosing electives for his third year, Arj realised that the Law Apps course would be the perfect way to expand his technical expertise in the legal technology space.

For Arj, Law Apps has been a welcome change from the more traditional subjects offered in the JD. He has teamed up with fellow students to develop an application for the Consumer Action Law Centre that directs case workers when assisting consumers who are seeking remedies for the provision of defective consumer leases.

When using the app, the user answers a series of questions that identifies the consumer’s circumstances, their relevant causes of action and the potential remedies available to them. It then generates a letter of complaint on behalf of the consumer and in so doing streamlines the complaint process.

The subject isn’t taught around a set of compulsory readings like most classes, Arj says. Rather, it’s about “learning by doing”.

“We learn how to use the Neota Logic platform, which is online development engine for expert systems. This is done through a series of practical online courses and building tasks.”

“One of the main highlights of the course is that lawyers and legal tech experts are brought in to speak about the expanding legal technology industry each week.” He emphasises that “it’s these experiences which really allow us to see how the skills we’re learning will actually be applicable in the future.”

Arj believes that it’s these practical and real-world elements of the Law Apps course that makes the subject so relevant to his future in the law.

“With things like expert systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence really starting to take off, we are going to see the types of jobs in the legal services industry transform over the next 10-20 years.”

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