ASU Law launches AI focus across multiple degree programs


A gavel sits on top of a laptop.

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has launched an AI focus in artificial intelligence for its Juris Doctor, Master of Legal Studies and Master of Laws degree programs. Courtesy photo

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The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University — ranked the nation’s most innovative university since U.S. News and World Report created the category in 2015 — has embraced artificial intelligence by launching a new AI focus area across several degree programs. 

ASU Law was the first law school in the U.S. to explicitly permit the use of generative AI in the admissions process in 2023. Now, ASU Law will continue to use AI in and out of the classroom to provide an innovative legal education to students in the Master of Legal Studies (MLS), Master of Laws (LLM) and Juris Doctor (JD) degree programs. The announcement also brings new courses, such as AI in legal operations and privacy and legal ethics in AI, to ensure students are proficient in using and addressing the technology in legal practice.

A brunette woman in black blazer poses for the camera.
Stacy Leeds

"We are the first law school in the country to offer an AI emphasis across multiple law degree programs," said Willard H. Pedrick Dean and Regents and Foundation Professor of Law Stacy Leeds.

"Our students will have unparalleled access to explore the intersection of law and technology. This will position them for success in the rapidly changing legal landscape, where AI will play an increasingly important role. This milestone builds upon our longstanding institutional commitment to innovate legal education."

The new AI focus adds to ASU Law’s robust roster of certificates already offered to JD students, which include certificates in law, science and technology; Indian law; health law and policy; law and sustainability; and trial advocacy. Certificates allow for focused study on a particular part of the law in 16 to 21 credit hours with hands-on mentorship from expert faculty members. The AI focus is the newest one in the law, science and technology certificate, which currently has three focus areas. MLS and LLM degree programs both come with a number of emphases that students can choose from. AI will be a new emphasis in those degrees.

The capacity and quality of AI have soared in recent years. Large language models like ChatGPT and Google Gemini are used across industries, including law firms and classrooms. By incorporating AI into its curriculum, ASU Law equips future legal professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the evolving complexities of the legal field. Many law school faculty members actively teach and incorporate AI into all courses, ensuring students receive comprehensive and practical training in this transformative field. 

Gary Marchant
Gary Marchant

Gary Marchant, Regents and Foundation Professor of Law and faculty director of the Center for Law, Science and Innovation (LSI), teaches eight classes per academic year, all incorporating AI in the curriculum. He said the new AI focus area in the law, science and technology certificate will give students a leg up when they enter the legal profession. 

“Law firms and other legal employers need young lawyers who are comfortable with using AI as it becomes increasingly important to the practice of law,” he said. “Many practicing lawyers don’t have the time or inclination to learn AI themselves (although some certainly do), so legal employers will be relying on their new recruits to become the AI implementers in their firm.”

ASU Law has long showcased its AI expertise through LSI and its annual Governance of Emerging Technologies and Science (GETS) conference. These initiatives demonstrate ASU Law's dedication to advancing the understanding and application of AI in the legal profession and continue pushing boundaries to redefine the legal studies landscape. 

“I estimate that within five years, it will no longer be possible to be a successful lawyer without using AI,” according to Marchant, a member of the Arizona Steering Committee on Artificial Intelligence and the Courts. “As the saying goes, AI will not replace lawyers, but lawyers who use AI will replace lawyers who don’t.”

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