Issue 48 * May 9, 2008

Runtime Donates $532,000 of Software to New York Law School
How Revolution Helps Law Students Think More Logically

by Bill Marriott

"Learning how to write code enhances a lawyer's ability to understand complex social systems", said David Johnson, a Professor at the NYLS Institute for Information Law and Policy. "We are working with students to develop interactive learning games, on the theory that law school can be fun", he added.

Famous lawyers from both fiction and reality have always relied on a variety of tools to persuade judge and jury: surprise witnesses; dramatic closing arguments; reenactments of the crime scene. 

But first and foremost, a good lawyer must be a master of logic. So it might not be such a surprise that a group of law school students have embraced Revolution Studio as yet another tool in their arsenal that helps them learn technology, teach law, and win cases.

Revolution’s popularity endures because it is the one programming system that enables content experts to focus attention on their areas of expertise, without the distractions of mastering the arcane syntax and byzantine rules of other languages. With Revolution’s natural language, anyone can break a complex problem into smaller pieces and arrive at a solution using logic that mirrors the way the human mind works.

In this way, Revolution reinforces the core analytical skills needed to be successful with large, complicated litigation.

Although New York Law School in Manhattan is one of the oldest independent law schools in the United States, it’s also one of the most innovative. Students use Revolution not just to sharpen their minds, but also to get things done. Recently, NYLS students have used Revolution to:

  • Create compelling presentations that serve as demonstrative evidence at trial
  • Model how organizations can make decisions more effectively
  • Establish a pilot program for collaborative patent examination at the United States Trademark and Patent Office
  • Educate students about the impact of technology on the legal system

"Without any training, the Runtime Revolution environment permitted our research team to quickly develop working prototypes of (i) interactive analytical flowcharts, (ii) statutory compliance tools and (iii) collaborative project management utilities for distributed environments.” -- Nick Nicolakis

And the list of potential applications of Revolution just gets longer as students and educators are inspired by the possibilities presented by the language.

“Faculty and students already have experience with using Revolution Studio to build interactive learning software, interactive diagrams that illustrate legal doctrines or explain statutory provisions, client counseling simulations, graphical courtroom demonstrations, and software kiosks to help pro se litigants,” said David Johnson, a Professor at the NYLS Institute for Information Law and Policy.

Because of the creativity with which NYLS has applied Revolution to so many aspects of everyday coursework, and the importance of educating future lawyers, lawmakers, and judges about technology issues, Runtime Revolution has gifted a copy of Revolution Studio to each faculty member, staff, and student of the school.

“Good software code, like good legal code, is precise and understandable to everyone,” said Kevin Miller, Runtime Revolution CEO. “We want everyone at NYLS to benefit from our unique language and its ability to create courseware and legal simulations.”

Miller added, “With Revolution, you have the ability to express complex algorithms and implement analysis strategies not possible with databases or spreadsheets.”

A legal compliance tool developed at NYLS, considered by the team as a "clickable statute," implements the "CAN SPAM" Act of 2004 as software code.. in a way that unambiguously determines whether an email passes muster with federal regulations.

Rick Matasar, NYLS Dean, expressed his appreciation of the gift and discussed the impact it will have on the quality of the school’s curriculum.  “Increasingly, lawyers use technology in every area of practice.  Familiarity with the basics is essential for the well-trained lawyer and for the law student who wants a “leg up” in the marketplace.  Lawyers practicing in fields that relate to technology directly, such as intellectual property, must understand how computer systems work. Every lawyer, whether doing transactional work (e.g., using software to generate deal documents) or litigation (with its increasing use of electronic discovery) needs to be able to evaluate technology tools used in practice.  We live in a world in which rights and obligations are importantly influenced by computer systems – so lawyers must understand not only legal code but also software code.”

Members of the NYLS community will receive a copy of the new Revolution Studio 2.9 for the platform of their choice, a gift worth more that half a million dollars. For more information read the Press Release or visit the NYLS site.

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