Technology in Human Terms

Today, I had the pleasure of listening to Fred Lederer, Professor and Director of the Center for Legal & Court Technology and the Courtroom 21 Project.

I had heard of this project for many years but this is the first time I’ve been in it … a marvelous example of future thinking, applied to today’s world.  Prof. Lederer made some very interesting observations:

First and foremost, he spoke of using technology — bringing together in one facility technology that is available today — for resolution of conflict in human terms! That’s the key, to reduce the cost of dispute resolution more quickly by being more efficient in the litigation/mediate/arbitration process.

Next, Prof. Lederer concludes that we will face more unbundled web-based legal services which will place significant pressure to decrease the cost of legal services.  One irony here is that as we become more efficient in the delivery of legal services — technology helps us do that — we spend fewer hours on any given matter which results in lower billings when our engagement agreement provides for hourly billing.  This may very well be a catalyst for flat fee billing.

Prof. Lederer also laments that we will have no privacy unless something major happens to reverse the current trend. Everything we do, say and write will be preserved, saved and easily found with new e-discovery programs!

I’ve talked before about the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. In the Reporter’s notes concerning competency criteria, having technology skills comparable to others in one’s community is required.  Some time later, that note was removed and there is no such comment currently.  However, in my opinion, being minimally skilled in the use of technology for a law practice is one element in determining a lawyer’s competence.


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