Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic

Clinic Description

AI, hybrid lawyering and online legal services are just a few examples of how technology has changed the landscape of law practice and the profession. Now more than ever, the ability of lawyers to use technology thoughtfully and creatively is critically important. Those who can help leverage already substantial investments in technology bring much sought after added value to their employers. That is why leaders of the bar, judges, and the most prestigious public interest organizations turn to students in the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic for help with pressing challenges.

Instructor: Conrad A. Johnson, Clinical Professor of Law
Experiential Credits: 7 credits (3 seminar; 4 fieldwork)
Available in: Not offered in Fall 2024 or Spring 2025

The Clinic has pioneered the study of how technology affects the practice of law since it began in 2001.Through hands-on experience students learn both:

  • Traditional lawyering skills; – interviewing, counseling, drafting and
  • Contemporary skills – including online fact-investigation, digital presentation, working with clients in hybrid settings.
  • NOTE: This semester the Clinic offers extensive opportunities to work with AI to serve clients.

Visit the Clinic’s website to learn more about who we are and what we do.

You will have substantial client contact in the Clinic. Note, that we have a long history of collaborating closely with our clients online where appropriate. Challenges such as those posed by 9/11, hurricane Sandy and COVID-19, while devastating, have had little effect on our ability to serve our clients.

The Seminar

In twice-weekly seminar sessions, we explore a structured framework for learning the habits of mind and skills of contemporary practice. The seminar provides a safe setting for achieving digital literacy and applying it to the work you will do wherever your career leads. Through exercises and thoughtful discussion, you will learn core lawyering skills to last a lifetime.


The work you do with your clients provides an outlet for applying what you learn in the seminar. Our clients are public interest legal organizations, prominent jurists and non-profit legal technology initiatives that have a serious interest in integrating technology to improve access to justice. Through client representation, students gain proficiency to practice at a high level in the digital age. Throughout, we emphasize how to use technology to help make the very human encounters we have with our clients and colleagues satisfying and productive.

You will be closely supervised through weekly team meetings, where you will receive the support and individualized feedback you need to achieve our learning goals while delivering the highest quality client service. Team meetings provide you an opportunity to collaborate closely with your clinic colleagues and your clients.

Sample projects include:

  • Helping civil legal aid and legal services attorneys meet the massive challenges of implementing NYC’s new “right to counsel” initiative for low-income New Yorkers in eviction proceedings.
  • Using AI to improve access to justice in a variety of settings.
  • Created an online portal to help millions of low and middle-income workers secure billions in Earned Income Tax Credits
  • Work with a charter school in East Harlem to use technology to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • In conjunction with New York’s Chief Judge, developed the Collateral Consequences Calculator that shows the immigration consequences of conviction for all sections of NY’s Penal Law.

Students emerge from the Clinic with a combination of contemporary legal and technical skills that give them a considerable professional edge as they enter the practice of law.

Important Information

The Clinic will be limited to 8 students and will be open to JD and LL.M candidates. There are no prerequisites to take the Clinic. We actively seek both students who feel they have no particular technological expertise, as well as students who are looking for opportunities to put their understanding of technology to good use. If you have questions, please email Professor Johnson at [email protected]

Professor Conrad Johnson in 2022

Current Faculty and Founder: Conrad Johnson

Conrad Johnson is a Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He joined the Law School faculty in 1989 after two years as an assistant professor at the City University of New York School of Law and after several years as the attorney-in-charge of the Harlem neighborhood office of The Legal Aid Society.

Johnson served as Director of Clinical Education at Columbia Law School from 1992 to 1996. He co-founded, and for eleven years directed, the Law School’s Fair Housing Clinic, which specialized in civil rights litigation. He is the co-creator of the Law School’s first distance-learning offering, the Seminar in Race-Conscious Remedies, and co-created, with Lecturer in Law Brian Donnelly, the Law School’s first e-course, “The Impact of Technology on the Legal Profession.”

In 2001, he co-founded the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, a path-breaking offering that explores the impact of technology on law practice and the profession through client work and collaborative projects with major public interest legal organizations and prominent jurists.

Johnson is recognized nationally as a leader in innovative legal education, access to justice, technology in law practice, and diversity in legal education. He is the 2013 recipient of the Law School’s Willis L.M. Reese Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Founder: Brian Donnelly

Brian Donnelly was a Lecturer in Law and the Director of Educational Technology at Columbia Law School. He began his career at Columbia in the early 1990s working on a large-scale digital library initiative. Prior to that he was an attorney in private practice in Stamford, Conn.

He helped to found the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at Columbia Law School in 2001. He has collaborated for many years with Professors Conrad Johnson and Mary Zulack on lawyering, technology, and access to justice projects.

As the director of Educational Technology, he is responsible for managing CourseWorks and curriculum-based technology initiatives at the Law School.

He has been active in the American Bar Association law practice division. He is also a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and served as a member of the Westlaw Law School Advisory Board 2009-2011.

Mr. Donnelly received his B.A. from Boston College, J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and M.S. from Columbia University.

Mary Zulack

Founder: Mary Zulack

Mary Marsh Zulack is a Clinical Professor of Law and co-founded and co-directed the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic. She also formerly co-directed the Fair Housing Clinic and inaugurated and taught the seminar on Law and Policy of Homelessness.

In the course of her 20-year career in legal services, Zulack served as attorney-in-charge of the Harlem Neighborhood Office of The Legal Aid Society of New York City and as acting executive director of Bedford Stuyvesant Legal Services.

She has served the New York City Bar Association as a member of the executive committee, and twice on the nominating committee, the judiciary committee, and civil court committee.

Zulack is founder and served as first chair of the Committee on Legal Needs of the Poor. She was awarded the 1996 Leadership Award by the Citywide Task Force on the Housing Court, awards for Outstanding Pro Bono Service by The Legal Aid Society in 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2009, and was a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary.


Lawyering in the Digital Age in the News