Is The Absence Of Technological Knowledge Career Suicide?

Some judges seem to think that career suicide is inevitable for attorneys who are not tech savvy.

The ABA Journal reported on a conference where U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis of New York's Southern District - a "cyberstar" federal judge who spoke on the future of law and technology at LegalTech New York 2014 - "was among the most concerned regarding lawyers who are clueless about the latest in technology."

"Francis said he sees technological advances like e-discovery as so critical to the courtroom that he views attorneys who are unaware of its nuances as essentially engaging in a slow career suicide. 'E-discovery is pervasive. It's like understanding civil procedure,' Francis said. 'You're not going to be a civil litigator without understanding the rules of civil procedure. Similarly, you're no longer going to be able to conduct litigation of any complexity without understanding e-discovery.'"

Law firms are already weeding out the tech savvy from the tech ignorant, and it will become increasingly important for new lawyers to have tech skills to stay competitive.

Another issue is the availability of very sensitive data. "Too many attorneys haven't logically concluded that they could be ethically liable for the loss of such data, and that they could be facing multiple lawsuits if the data falls into the wrong hands. The problem is especially troublesome given that attorneys, like the general populace, are using smartphones and tablets for both personal and business matters. That's a major change from a decade ago, when most attorneys used a desktop for work and only needed to secure a laptop outside of the office." It's easy for a smartphone with sensitive client information to be misplaced.

Up to this point, it seems that most lawyers have been left to their own devices to learn the technology necessary to stay competitive. Law schools should do a better job of teaching the technological side of the law to sufficiently prepare new attorneys.

There are schools that teach some of these courses -- see Cloud Computer, Mobile Tech, & Legal Apps (a librarian taught class), but it's safe to say that all law schools could do a better job of teaching e-discovery practices, etc....


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