Bar Journal November 2014
Complete Bar Journal
This is an exciting time to be a law school dean. The push and pull of tradition and innovation makes every day a challenge as we try to meet our responsibilities to our students and our profession. We are working in a world undergoing exponential change every few years due to technology and globalization. And, in this rapidly changing context, we are striving to answer an important practical question: What is the best way to prepare our students for their future employment as a lawyer?
Lawyers have an obligation to provide competent and diligent representation to their clients. This means the lawyer must apply the “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonable necessary for the representation.”1 Furthermore, “a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”2
In the world of law, it certainly can’t be disputed that “the times they are a-changin’.”1 Dramatic changes are occurring rapidly in the way legal services are provided. Even prior to the economic downturn in 2008, lawyers and law firms were beginning to experience change as corporate clients demanded detailed budgets and information regarding legal services performed and results achieved. The full impact of the downturn is now behind us, but the “more services for less cost” demand remains, and is now an expectation of all clients — whether that client is an individual seeking a divorce, or is a corporation seeking to enforce a multi-million dollar contract.
Pre-Internet: A lawyer would proofread a letter, sign it, have it stamped and placed in an envelope and mailed. Unless something urgent required a phone call, the lawyer could expect a reply letter in four to seven days.
If you feel like it’s impossible to keep up with cybersecurity, fear not. You belong to a very large club. This field changes, not year by year, not month by month, but day by day. The best advice you can get is to attend at least one information security CLE each year and to keep reading articles like this one! Because this area moves so quickly, we thought we’d highlight recent developments.
No one can ignore the fact that law office technology has greatly changed the practice of law within the last two decades. Computers on lawyers’ desks, automated document drafting procedures, computerized legal research, tablets, smartphones, easy access to the Internet and dozens of other changes have impacted both the way lawyers work and the actual nature of what is considered legal work within substantive areas of the practice of law.
Social media continues to take the world by storm as millions of people communicate and network on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and individual blogs every day. Its ubiquitous reach now extends to the practice of law, and has led to an explosion of state and federal court opinions involving some aspect of social media.1
Who decides who gets to be a lawyer? The short answer is other lawyers. Since the early days of the profession of the practice of law in America, prospective lawyers gained their education and admittance to the bar by associating, studying with and being accepted by older, experienced lawyers.1
Five women attorneys were honored during a recent conference sponsored by the OBA Women in Law Committee, joining a group of nearly 100 honorees who have been recognized as Spotlight Award winners since 1996. Over the course of those 18 years, the Spotlight Awards have annually celebrated pioneering women lawyers who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession and paved the way for women lawyers of the future.
We have all heard of “work/life balance” by now. It is a common CLE topic. The OBA even has a committee devoted to the subject. When I first heard the phrase “work/life balance,” it conjured up something foreign and subversive — something invented by lawyers in San Francisco sipping chardonnay with their wok-stir-fried tofu. However, as I have become older and wiser, my
view has changed.