Socrates and Smartphones: Why the Future of Legal Education Must be Philosophy

(2017) 10 Journal of Australasian Law Teachers Association 61.

7 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2021

See all articles by Daniel Goldsworthy

Daniel Goldsworthy

Deakin Law School; Melbourne Law School

Date Written: 2017


We are at a Grotian moment in history as the convergence of new social, economic and technological forces are fundamentally altering societies on a global scale, posing inescapable challenges for the legal profession and legal education. Technological growth and development, the global ubiquity of smart phones, and the subsequent automation of many jobs, is changing how human beings interact with and relate to the very notion of work. The law is not immune from automation, and there will be a need to support and manage this transition. In the short term, many legal roles that nevertheless involve repetitive processes, will become increasingly automated by smart and self-learning algorithms. In the long term, the role and value of the human being to the legal process will become drastically recast and redefined.

The irreducible human value to the legal profession is to be found in the distinction made between what can be reproduced artificially (intelligence) and consequently automated, and what cannot (consciousness).4 At this juncture, where a multiplicity of outcomes may be derived through artificially intelligent processes, consideration must then be given to the reasons for preferring one coherent, logical and ‘intelligent’ outcome over another. It is this contemplation that will remain the domain of human reason and consciousness. As a consequence, the future for human beings in the legal profession will come more and more to be characterized by roles and responsibilities innately requiring the exercise of human consciousness (as distinct from intelligence). This article contends that these future human roles in the legal profession will be grounded in philosophy and, given the residual roles that human lawyers will come to play, that a deep training in philosophy will be imperative for future lawyers.

Keywords: Legal Education, Legal Pedagogy, Philosophy, Automation, Future of Law, Future of Work, Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Economy, Exponential Growth, Digital Revolution, Harari

Suggested Citation

Goldsworthy, Daniel, Socrates and Smartphones: Why the Future of Legal Education Must be Philosophy (2017). (2017) 10 Journal of Australasian Law Teachers Association 61., Available at SSRN:

Daniel Goldsworthy (Contact Author)

Deakin Law School ( email )

75 Pigdons Road
Victoria, Victoria 3216

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

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