Suffolk University Law School professor Andrew Perlman is one of the lucky 10,000 people selected to get an early test drive of the Google Glass—the futuristic specs outfitted with a small computer screen over the right eye, a camera and an Internet connection.

Perlman earned a crack at the glasses before they become available to the public by submitting a proposal to experiment with them to improve classroom teaching and legal practice. For example, shy students might feel more comfortable texting a question for Perlman to field via the new device. Or a lawyer might use them to record a deposition or allow colleagues to weigh in via text message.

"The glasses could facilitate a lot of things that lawyers do," Perlman said.

The Google Glass trial is a prime example of the type of project the law school’s new Institute of Law Practice Technology and Innovation plans to undertake. The institute was launched on April 18 with panel discussion featuring "legal futurist" Richard Susskind, author of the book The End of Lawyers?

The institute will host lectures, develop courses and conduct research into how technology is changing the practice of law and how to better prepare students to enter the industry. Other law schools have academic centers focused on technology or intellectual property, but few schools concentrate on how technology is intersecting with the practice of law, said Perlman.

The director of the institute and chief reporter for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20, Perlman pointed to the University of Miami School of Law’s Law Without Walls program and Michigan State University College of Law’s Reinvent Law Laboratory as two examples of law schools that are already experimenting in this area.

Suffolk dean Camille Nelson conceived of the institute a year ago, and the concept has evolved from a certificate program for lawyers and non-lawyers into a multifaceted program geared more towards students. Perlman said he envisions a series of courses covering electronic discovery or a simulation in which students use technology to manage a virtual law firm.

Last fall, the school offered a class called Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines in which students were required to write a computer application that sought address a real-world legal problem.

The institute has already launched a Litigation Resource app that compiles a wealth of publicly available information such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Massachusetts Superior Court Rules and makes it easily available via mobile device.

Exposing students to new ways of harnessing technology in the practice of law is bound to make them more desirable on the job market, Perlman said.

"Look at small and medium-sized firms," he said. "Many can’t afford a large IT or marketing staff. So if you have a young attorney who understands technology or can engage in various kinds of marketing practices, it’s a real value-added."

Students exposed to technology in law school will also have an advantage landing jobs in the growing field of law-related jobs, such as e-discovery and legal services outsourcing, he added.

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