“Dear Lawyers, I’m Here To Stay.” -Technology

The fight against drones, Google Glass, or other new technology has gotten violent this month, with a woman attacking a 17-year old boy for flying a drone on a Connecticut beach, reports Forbes.

It’s one of the first time criminal charges were filed, as opposed to just name-calling or social criticism.

“It’s easy to call these people Luddites, after the British workers who set about destroying machines—and in some cases killing the people who owned them—in the late 1700s and early 1800s in a futile attempt to turn back the tide of mechanization. It led Britain to pass a law making machine-wrecking punishable by death,” writes Jeff Bercovici for Forbes.

“But the new machine destroyers’ motivations are different. The original Luddites were worried machines would take their jobs; the Neo-Luddites fear machines will steal their privacy.”

Except, we no longer live in a world where technology is a choice.

There’s no way to turn off or opt-out of the video surveillance cameras in your city or from Internet searches of your name by others. In law, lawyers are fond of calling their practice “traditional” and eschewing modern tools. But even they can’t stop courts from taking e-filings only.

The Above The Law (ATL) Legal Tech Terms Survey sought to learn about its readers’ familiarity with the following concepts: Information Governance, Predictive Coding, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, and Dark Data. Its results were shocking:

In follow-up questions, over a quarter of respondents who self-identified as litigators—the cohort presumably most versed in e-discovery—characterized predictive coding as irrelevant to their career or had “no idea” whether or not it was relevant, reports ATL.

And, less than 50 percent of respondents believe that cybersecurity is an “essential” aspect of their career, reports the same survey by ATL.

#yikes

Amid controversies like ExamSoft’s giant debacle regarding bar exam uploading, it’s clear that the legal profession needs to rapidly update its way-of-thinking and its way of working with technology.

In a recent ATL blog post, Alex Rich describes five reasons why lawyers should embrace technology or be left in another firm’s dust. Here are some highlights:

First, technology is here to stay. Unlike crop tops or ripped jeans, technology is neither a fad nor cyclical. So, it’s time to learn the review platform your case is using or even the software available to you via the IT department. Mostly you don’t want to embarrass yourself, as Rich says, “when you ask why the 3 terabytes of data cannot be reviewed in Concordance.”

Second, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. There’s no way you will convince colleagues that physical document review (as in, files) is more efficient than reviewing e-discovery scanned into the computer. So, don’t try. Leave the yellow note pad at your desk and pick up an iPad on your way home.

Third, increase your family time. Ok, Rich—perhaps a more realistic attorney—actually wrote that technology increases the illusion of family time by allowing you to take the office mobile. So, you may not be paying full attention to your daughter’s softball game when you’re answering Re: Urgent, urgent, urgent! e-mails on your smartphone. But, hey, you’re there, right?

Fourth, get excited about high-quality distractions. This can be anywhere from streaming sports games or listening to e-books during document review. Rich writes, “Document review (as well as a whole host of other legal tasks) is frequently so boring that you need a distraction to occupy part of your brain while you go through the mundane chore of selecting the appropriate issue tag. And when it comes to quality distractions, well, technology’s got your back.” Just be careful that you’re not violating your firm’s internal policies by browsing Facebook instead of giving face time to firm clients.

Fifth, low-tech has its own problems. You may get annoyed when technology fails, but isn’t human error worse? Also, Rich doesn’t fondly remember the days of lugging around heavy boxes full of documents for discovery, getting paper cuts as you go through them, and getting ill from breathing in dust everyday for months at a time.

Technology might be that proverbial double-edged sword, but wouldn’t you rather be the person wielding it than the one behind it?

Start with the basics: Learn tips and tricks for using Excel, PowerPoint, and MS Word to improve productivity at your firm here.

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