Karl Haraldsson '19, a Chicago-Kent Honors Scholar, isn't planning to practice law when he graduates three years from now. But he does plan to practice "in the legal space" and be among those who are "dragging law into the 21st century."
The Chicago native grew up in Lubbock, Texas, then came back as an undergrad at the University of Chicago, studying political science. A class in election forecasting inspired him to study statistics, calculus and visualization software tools. After graduating, Karl became a project assistant at Seyfarth Shaw in their innovation group, then headed by Chicago-Kent grad Andrew Baker '07, where he worked on legal technologies that make the practice of law more efficient.
"I always wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger," he said, "but after working in the industry, I realized I didn't really want to be a lawyer in the traditional sense."
Nonetheless, Baker encouraged him to go to law school—and to Chicago-Kent—because of the groundbreaking work on legal technology that Professor Ron Staudt and others were doing there. When Karl found out Dan Katz had joined the faculty, that sealed the deal.
"He's the man when it comes to the intersection of data science and law. It was a no-brainer to pounce on the opportunity to work with him."
All of which put him in an unusual position.
"I've worked harder in law school than pretty much any other time," he said, "but I've also enjoyed it purely from an intellectual perspective. I loved Property, Criminal Law, Torts. I love the ability to just come into a class and discuss ideas."
A part-time evening student, he doesn't need to specialize for his future career. In fact, having a broader legal education may be a greater benefit.
"I want more content knowledge, especially on the transactional and corporate side of things," he said. "It's something that will allow me even deeper understanding of the legal space when advising companies and law firms on quantifying their practice."
After three and a half years at Seyfarth Shaw, he recently joined the consulting firm Janders Dean, working in "legal transformation, with my specialty being quantified law and legal analytics." This still relatively new field is a response to cost pressures from clients following the financial crisis.
In the next five to 10 years, Karl sees himself "continuing as a consultant, going into a law firm to help them change from within, or joining a company that develops technologies to make law more affordable for both corporations and people. The easier it is to get access to an attorney who can do things cheaper and more efficiently, the better for all of us.
"There's a lot of change going on in the legal industry," he added. "It's extraordinarily exciting."