Friday, August 22, 2014

Teaching Technology To Law Students

In today's world, lawyers must be tech savvy. Lawyers need to know how technology intersects with the law for things like eDiscovery and eHearsay purposes. And lawyers also need to know how technology can make their jobs more efficient and cost effective.

The NYTimes reported on law schools that are taking an innovative approach to teaching technology. "'Legal education has been stronger on tradition than innovation,' said Joan W. Howarth, dean of the Michigan State law school. 'What we’re trying to do is educate lawyers for the future, not the past.'"

"Michigan State professors don’t just teach torts, contracts and the intricacies of constitutional law. They also delve into software and services that sift through thousands of cases to help predict whether a client’s case might be successful or what arguments could be most effective. They introduce their students to programs that search through mountains of depositions and filings, automating tasks like the dreary 'document review' that was once the baptism of fire and boredom for young associates."

Further, "Bill Mooz, a visiting professor at the University of Colorado law school, has started a four-week summer boot camp called Tech Lawyer Accelerator to provide, as he put it, 'all of the things they don’t teach you in law school and they don’t teach in law firms but which you need to be effective in today’s world.' Students are brought up to speed on tech tools designed to make legal services more efficient."

Law librarians are also getting in on the act by teaching technology sessions to law students. One class, in particular, called Cloud Computing, Mobile Tech & Legal Apps teaches "how 'The Cloud' has fundamentally changed our technological environment. Next, [the course] examine how 'The Cloud' led to the rise of mobility, how mobility led to the production of apps, and how apps have impacted the practice of law. [The course] examines mobile apps by first focusing on the approach the following big vendors are taking with their deployments: Westlaw, Lexis, CCH & Wolters Kluwer, fastcase, Bloomberg Law, Bloomberg BNA, and Hein Online. After that, [the course] examines a bevy of independently-produced apps that fit into the following categories: current awareness, organization & presentation, jury selection, docket research, eReading, news aggregation, and more. Lastly, [the course] covers general-interest apps and information sources that provide reviews and updates on late-breaking legal research apps."

It's ultimately important for future lawyers to understand new technology because it may be malpractice not to. The Findlaw Technologist Blog noted that the ABA takes technology seriously, and "[i]n 2012, the ABA modified Comment 8 to Rule 1.1 (that 'a lawyer shall provide competent representation to the client') to require lawyers to 'keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.'"

It's great to see that law schools are innovating in this way.

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