UMKC School of Law Leads Launch of Consortium of Cities and Law Schools

School collaborates with governments and law schools from several cities to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development

Cities seek technologically driven change to better shape the environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. Partnering with law schools helps communities address challenges associated with city processes, policies, and sharing data; and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law is leading a new effort to promote and enable such partnerships.

The UMKC School of Law, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Law School and Dazza Greenwood, founding member of the Massachusetts Legal Hackers, is working to build upon previous partnerships among law schools, cities and civic-minded community–based technologists. They invited representatives from law schools, cities, and other organizations that support civic entrepreneurship to assemble in Brooklyn on October 30 to explore the development of a consortium of cities and law schools.

Following up from the New Entrepreneurial Growth Conference, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in June 2015, Professor Tony Luppino took the lead in organizing the conference for a “who’s who” of law schools and cities working on civic tech and entrepreneurship initiatives. Participants included representatives from cities, city governments and/or law schools in Missouri, New York, Illinois, Vermont, Tennessee, Washington, the District of Columbia and even London, England. Representatives of organizations that work with cities, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Code for America Brigade, also attended the event.

Ben Kallos, a New York City Councilman; Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; Jonathan Askin of Brooklyn Law School; and Greenwood joined UMKC School of Law Dean Ellen Suni and Professors Luppino and Michael Robak as key advocates for the development of this consortium. Greenwood, of the MIT Media Lab, has previously collaborated with the UMKC trio.

A letter from Kansas City’s mayor, Sly James, helped kick off the start of the conference.
“As cities continue to create sustaining ecosystems for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Kate Garman, a 3L law student at UMKC Law and innovation analyst at the city, read on behalf of Mayor James, “inviting and including law schools to contribute productive analysis as collaborators makes great sense.”

Participants examined examples of successful, recent collaborations between cities and law schools and established objectives and next steps, including expanding to additional law schools and cities. One of the major objectives of this consortium is to create a web-based platform to facilitate collaboration among cities and law schools, allowing them to form project teams to, among other things, develop technology-based tools that will provide easier access to the law and city services for individuals and companies. In turn, these tools would reduce costs and foster innovation by streamlining city processes, thereby supporting entrepreneurship and economic growth. This exciting collaboration also provides tremendous opportunities to educate students on emerging technologies, making them better lawyers for the future, while simultaneously allowing them to participate in productive civic entrepreneurship.

UMKC School of Law is a leader, on the forefront of encouraging the convergence of law and technology. The formation of the Consortium of Cities and Law Schools lays a path for new collaboration efforts among city representatives, law schools, and technologists looking to make a positive difference in their communities and to develop approaches to meeting civic challenges that can be replicated nationally and internationally.

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