I was having lunch with a colleague on Tuesday at a nice little spot in Carlsbad here in San Diego, and amongst other things we were discussing how she made her mark as a young attorney. She began her practice in the mid ‘90’s and she has been practicing for over ten years now and the key way she distinguished herself at her first firm was her use of technology. Whether it was helping with technology at trial or storing documents online, she had made her mark in the firm by being the one person in the firm that the partners could depend on when technical advice and help was need.
Of course, this goes hand in hand with one of my favorite observations – many lawyers still fear technology. Look no further than Chief Justice John Roberts who had the audacity to ask, “What’s the difference between email and a pager” during oral arguments in the Quon case which involved policeman “sexting” with company phones. And unfortunately it’s not just the Chief Justice. I had to deal with a support call yesterday with a person who didn’t know what a ‘scroll bar’ or a ‘browser’ is. Hello!!! Welcome to the digital millenuem!
My running joke is that most of us would have been doctors except for the fact that science and math kept most of us out of medical school. Unfortunately, many attorneys aversion to science and math has also followed them into the realm of technology. When embarked on my journey into online CLE over five years ago I was amazed at how something like E-Discovery was just getting attention – when we have had computers and digital devices for decades now. Now that almost every attorney has a smartphone and with Facebook at 500 million users, I would have to say that technology is here do stay. But have attorneys attitudes towards technology changed at all?
After surveying the online legal environment and taking a look at the latest statistics from the ABA’s 2010 Technology Survey Report, I would have to say that many attorneys have made substantial progress in the last few years:
- Lawyers who use a social network – nearly quadrupled since 2008.
- Lawyers who use smartphones – almost doubled since 2007.
- Lawyers who use web-based software – nearly doubled since 2008.
From finding new clients and networking with other professionals to managing your office and doing research online, I think that many attorneys are starting to realize that the ostrich approach just won’t work anymore (burying your head in the sand an hoping technology just goes away). I came across this quote which sums things up nicely,” This is where technology is taking us, and you have a clear choice. You can either jump on the bandwagon…or end up chasing it!”
I know that (see Moore’s Law) technology will only continue to increase exponentially in the future and it will only continue to shape the law. Law firms and attorneys must continue to exploit new and developing technologies. Whether you need to make your mark in your new firm or you need help running your practice more efficiently, technology presents so many avenues for attorneys. It just takes a little time to find and understand new technologies.
One great way to learn what’s going on out there is to follow various experts. One great website I just came cross is lawsitesblog.com which is run by Massachusetts attorney Robert Ambrogi. I read some great posts this morning and came across some slides he posted on How Technology is Rewiring Lawyers’ Brains .. and What It Means For CLE. The slides came from a presentation he gave earlier this week at the annual ACLEA conference in New York.
We also have some great resources on our Attorney Credits website, including our law, ethics, and technology series which focuses on the ethics of online legal advertising, e-discovery, and email & electronic storage. We also have an excellent MicroSeminar on the legal ethics of websites that has been our most popular MicroSeminar.
And I also really enjoy Kevin O’Keefe and LexBlog – especially the best in law blogs. If you need help with your social networking skills, there are many resources available on his website at lexblog.com.
 15% in 2008, now 56% in 2010
 38% in 2007, now 64% in 2010
 13% in 2008, now 20% in 2010